Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services – servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and more – over the Internet (“the cloud”). Companies offering these computing services are called cloud providers and typically charge for cloud computing services based on usage, similar to how you’re billed for gas or electricity at home.
Uses of Cloud Computing
You’re probably using cloud computing right now, even if you don’t realise it. If you use an online service to send emails, edit documents, watch films or TV, listen to music, play games, or store pictures and other files, it’s likely that cloud computing is making it all possible behind the scenes. The first cloud computing services are barely a decade old, but already a variety of organisations – from tiny start-ups to global corporations, from government agencies to non-profits – are embracing the technology for all sorts of reasons. Here are a few of the things you can do with the cloud:
- Create new apps and services
- Store, back up and recover data
- Host websites and blogs
- Stream audio and video
- Deliver software on demand
- Analyse data for patterns and make predictions
Benefits of Cloud Computing
- Cost - Cloud computing eliminates the capital expense of buying hardware and software, and setting up and running on-site data centres – the racks of servers, the round-the-clock electricity for power and cooling, the IT experts for managing the infrastructure. It adds up quickly.
- Speed - Most cloud computing services are provided as self service and on demand, so even vast amounts of computing resources can be provisioned in minutes, typically with just a few mouse clicks, giving businesses a lot of flexibility and taking the pressure off capacity planning.
- Global scale - The benefits of cloud computing services include the ability to scale elastically. In cloud speak, that means delivering the right amount of IT resources – for example, more or less computing power, storage, bandwidth – exactly when it’s needed, and from the right geographic location.
- Productivity - On-site data centres typically require a lot of “racking and stacking” – hardware setup, software patching and other time-consuming IT management chores. Cloud computing removes the need for many of these tasks, so IT teams can spend time on achieving more important business goals.
Performance - The biggest cloud computing services run on a worldwide network of secure data centres, which are regularly upgraded to the latest generation of fast and efficient computing hardware. This offers several benefits over a single corporate data centre, including reduced network latency for applications and greater economies of scale.