The term ‘Cloud Computing’ was born in the middle of 2007. The word ‘Cloud’ is a metaphor to describe the Internet. So Cloud Computing can be explained simply as computing (applications, storage, services etc.) residing on the Internet which the users connect to.
For example, if you are using web applications from big firms such as Google or Microsoft, it means that you are using Cloud Computing. The web applications such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Hotmail, Salesforce, Dropbox and Google Docs are all Cloud Computing services because when connecting to those services, the users will access to massive integrated server groups on the Internet.
Generally, large corporations install certain applications on servers to provide lower costs (shared storage, management, architecture etc.) and distributed connectivity (e.g. global access). With Cloud Computing, resources are shared, so a single email server may server 500 companies instead of 500 companies needing to buy their own internal email server for example. Therefore, Cloud Computing reduces the cost arising from individual companies hosting their own services locally. As saying above, the word ‘Cloud’ refers to the Internet.
Currently, many companies have posted their applications to the Internet and have integrated features through a web browser allowing connectivity from different computing platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux etc.)
Easier: If usually run their applications on their own servers that are placed in their offices, it requires local effort for maintenance, the cost and the time to keep things running continuously and upgrading. If they use Cloud Computing, they will still use the same applications but the applications will be implemented on an Internet facing server. In many cases, the maintenance, upgrading and running of the server is handles by a data centre or application provider. Further, they can also let their users or associates use the applications without having to install anything to their computers.
More efficient: Have you ever thought that your company will use Office 360 or Google Docs instead of Microsoft Office or Open Office? From cloud services, the company doesn’t have to spend large amounts of money on licensing fees, maintenance, updating etc. It’s all carried out without them needing to be too concerned.
The drawback of office application based cloud computing is that it is completely dependent on a reliable internet service. Also a slow internet connection can make the experience unpleasant if there are long delays between doing different functions.
Much Cheaper: There are no capital expenditures upfront (no need to buy servers etc.) and most services grow as your needs grow so you only pay for what you need. The cost is also easier to bear for the small companies.
Flexible: A global solution designed to suit your needs. It is quickly adaptable if your needs change. You might add or remove users and set up regular or spike access time.
Secure: More sophisticated security system but interdependent with the company operating the servers and may not be suitable for confidential data.