Main » TERM » C »

cloud computing

Cloud computing is a type of computing that relies on sharing computing resources rather than having local servers or personal devices to handle applications.

In cloud computing, the word cloud(also phrased as "the cloud") is used as a metaphor for "the Internet," so the phrase cloud computing means "a type of Internet-based computing," where different services such as servers, storage and applications are delivered to an organization's computers and devices through the Internet. The cloud infrastructure is maintained by the cloud provider, not the individual cloud customer.

cloud computing definition

In its most simple description, cloud computing is taking services ("cloud services") and moving them outside an organizations firewall on shared systems. Applications and services are accessed via the Web, instead of your hard drive. The services are delivered and used over the Internet and are paid for by cloud customer (your business), typically on an as-needed or pay-per-use business model.

Cloud computing is comparable to grid computing, a type of computing where unused processing cycles of all computers in a network are harnesses to solve problems too intensive for any stand-alone machine.

Recommended Reading: Cloud Computing Explained.

How it Works

Cloud computing applies traditional supercomputing, or high-performance computing power, normally used by military and research facilities, to perform tens of trillions of computations per second. In consumer-oriented applications such as financial portfolios, to deliver personalized information, to provide data storage or to power large, immersive online computer games.

To do this, cloud computing uses networks of large groups of servers typically running low-cost consumer PC technology with specialized connections to spread data-processing chores across them. This shared IT infrastructure contains large pools of systems that are linked together. Often, virtualization techniques are used to maximize the power of cloud computing.

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing Standards

The standards for connecting the computer systems and the software needed to make cloud computing work are not fully defined at present time, leaving many companies to define their own cloud computing technologies. Organizations choose cloud providers that satisfy their needs. Cloud computing systems offered by companies, like IBM's "Blue Cloud" technologies, for example, are based on open standards and open source software which link together computers that are used to to deliver Web 2.0 capabilities like mash-ups or mobile commerce.

Organizations such as the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Open Cloud Consortium (OCC) and Open Grid Forum (OGF) are a few of the many organizations that have suggested some type of standard or suggested guidelines.

Recommended Reading: Webopedia's Cloud Dictionary: 50 Cloud Computing Terms to Know

In the Data Center and for Small Business

Cloud computing has obtained mass appeal in corporate data centers as it enables the data center to operate like the Internet through the process of enabling computing resources to be accessed and shared as virtual resources in a secure and scalable manner.

For a small and medium size business (SMB), the benefits of cloud computing is currently driving adoption. In the SMB sector there is often a lack of time and financial resources to purchase, deploy and maintain an infrastructure (e.g. the software, server and storage).

In cloud computing, small businesses can access these resources and expand or shrink services as business needs change. The common pay-as-you-go subscription model is designed to let SMBs easily add or remove services and you typically will only pay for what you do use.

Common Cloud Service Models

Cloud services are typically deployed based on the end-user (business) requirements. The primary services include the following:

Software as a Service (SaaS)

A software delivery method that provides access to software and its functions remotely as a Web-based service. Software as a Service allows organizations to access business functionality at a cost typically less than paying for licensed applications since SaaS pricing is based on a monthly fee.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

A computing platform being delivered as a service. Here the platform is outsourced  in place of a company or data center purchasing and managing their own hardware and software layers.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

A computer infrastructure, such as virtualization, being delivered as a service. IaaS is popular in the data center where software and servers are purchased as a fully outsourced service and usually billed on usage and how much of the resource is used

More Cloud Computing Articles on Webopedia







LATEST ARTICLES
Facts about Cloud Computing in 2017

The following facts and statistics capture the changing landscape of cloud computing and how service providers and customers are keeping up with... Read More »

Facts about Computer Science: Education and Jobs

The following computer science facts and statistics provide a quick introduction to the changing trends in education and related careers. Read More »

Texting & Chat Abbreviations

From A3 to ZZZ this guide lists 1,500 text message and online chat abbreviations to help you translate and understand today's texting lingo. Read More »

STUDY GUIDES
The Five Generations of Computers

Learn about each of the five generations of computers and major technology developments that have led to the computing devices that we use... Read More »

Computer Architecture Study Guide

Computer architecture provides an introduction to system design basics for most computer science students. Read More »

Network Fundamentals Study Guide

Networking fundamentals teaches the building blocks of modern network design. Learn different types of networks, concepts, architecture and... Read More »