Okay, you have heard so much about cloud computing and its benefits. But, what is cloud computing and how does it differ from traditional computing methods? Cloud computing refers to the delivery of hosted services over the internet. Cloud computing can broadly be classified into three categories:
1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
This is one of the most basic type of setups where service providers offer physical or virtual computers or machines which can be used for many purposes like storage, running applications, testing and whatever one can think of. These machines are usually provided on demand by the IaaS service providers from a number of computers or servers installed at their data centres.
2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)
As the name suggests, with this type of cloud models, the PaaS providers typically include an operating system, programming language, database etc as per the requirement of its clients. This saves the company cost of buying application, hardware, and the cost of maintenance of such a system. These are on demand so resources can be increased or decreased as and when needed. This is great for companies looking to test and develop applications, host websites etc.
3. Software as a service (SaaS)
In this model, service providers run applications or programs on the cloud machines which are directly accessed by end users. These end users do not own or operate the cloud in any way, but rather just use the application through their computers or hand held devices. No separate application or program needs to be installed on client machine and thus makes the whole process very simple and flexible. Some example of this model would include Google Apps, Quickbooks Online and Salesforce.com.
Some of the inherent benefit of cloud computing includes reduced cost for companies as infrastructure is maintained by third party and therefore do not have to buy or invest in computing hardware and software needed one time or infrequently. The end user can access the services hosted on the cloud from anywhere anytime irrespective of where the user is located. The end user can also use any computing device like mobile phones or web browsers to access the cloud applications anywhere, anytime. Maintenance becomes simplified as no application needs to be installed on end user computers or devices to access these hosted applications.
Information or application is stored in a centralized location on a computing device which would ideally be placed in a data centre, which could be anywhere in the world. This information is then accessed by end users from anywhere in the world over the internet using mobile or web browsers. This gives you the power to store all your photos, videos, applications on the cloud and then accessing them from anywhere in the world anytime you want. You just need a device to connect to the cloud instance to retrieve them.