Ask the Geek
|What exactly is cloud computing?|
|Sunday, 14 March 2010|
New York, NY - Cloud computing is defined as computing services provided as a utility, like electricity or phone service. Instead of building servers, maintaining or upgrading the hardware and incurring the costs of redundancy and availability, a service provider does this for you. All you do is pick what service you want and pay for it as you go. This is still a fairly new approach, but it is growing fast--very fast.
Google GMail is an example of a specific "cloud application". Google has put up all the infrastructure that is required, written the application and made it available "in the cloud." This is also known as SaaS, or Software as a Service.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, is IaaS, Infrastructure as a Service. Here you provision a virtual server in a provider's data center running Windows or Linux and you have complete control over the virtual machine. You pay the provider by the hour usually. Although that sounds expensive, at less then a penny per hour, the annual costs can be much more affordable then buying a server yourself. The true value in this model is that you can upgrade memory, disk space and processing power pretty much on the fly and only pay for what you actually use. You can even spin up a server for a few weeks if that's all you need and then tear it down and move on.
There are many complexities to cloud computing, it isn't a silver bullet that will eliminate the costs of your entire server room, but it is an exciting option that opens up tremendous IT opportunities for almost any business, especially small businesses, to save costs, time and have high quality computing services available to them that they might not normally have access to. Stay tuned.