Cloud computing is considered to be the next big computer trend revolutionising the way existing IT infrastructure is run and developed within companies. But what is it? If you type the term into a search engine there will be a whole host of websites that attempt to answer the question but you will often see that many different definitions come back as everyone seems to have a singular take on what cloud computing means to them and their businesses.
Fundamentally, cloud computing is the way that a company will access software, applications, services and data in the future. It is a way that businesses can store and access data through a shared web browser meaning that a company no longer needs physical hardware onsite to store this type of information. The cloud will be provided by a cloud hosting provider meaning a new delivery model for IT services in businesses where the company can gain from economies of scale and virtualised resources. The cloud is an on-demand technology meaning that it can be accessed when required and companies only pay for what is used. It is also a technology that can be accessed from anywhere on a variety of devices including mobile phones; so offering companies greater flexibility and accessibility.
Therefore, put succinctly, cloud computing is the move to make IT management and provision of data, applications and information a service. This service will be run for businesses by their chosen cloud computing provider over the Internet on a consumption-based model.
The security of a company's data is an important factor in their IT related activities and cloud computing can offer different levels of security to suit business types and needs as data can be held within public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds. But what do these terms mean?
A public cloud as it suggests is information that is held over the Internet for use by the general public in applications such as Gmail and Hotmail. The user of these applications doesn't know where the data is stored and if the cloud has any downtime it means that the user experiences this downtime as well with no understanding of when applications will be up-and-running again. These types of clouds do not offer any guarantees or service level agreements (SLAs) so are more suited to companies that don't have business critical applications.
A private cloud is a cloud service offered to a limited number of people behind a private firewall in a data centre. This type of cloud technology does come with guarantees and SLAs to ensure that data and applications are always available and that there minimal downtime (if any) for a company. This type of cloud is more secure to protect the safety of information.
A hybrid cloud is an amalgamation of public and private clouds. For example, a business may choose to provide some resources internally (as they have spent money setting-up their existing IT infrastructure) while choosing to outsource some externally.
It can be seen that cloud computing is changing the way that applications and data is both delivered and accessed. When looking for a provider you should look for a company with renowned experience and one that you can fully trust with your businesses software, data and applications.