Cloud Computing Defined:
Cloud Computing is the incremental provision of computing resources provided by a 3rd party entity.
Cloud Computing in layman’s terms
Cloud Computing provides access to computing resources to individuals and businesses to enable the running of applications without the need to setup complex hardware or software. These resources can be billed in increments of seconds or minutes similar to the way we are charged for power or water utilities.
Another Way to Look at Cloud Computing
Here’s an example, you’ve just built a new home and you have 2 options as far as gaining access to water:
Option 1 – Digging a Well (DIY)
Here’s what is probably involved in something like this:
|Dig a large hole||Well wall maintenance and inspection|
|Purchase and Install a Pump||Pump Maintenance and inspection|
|Setup water filter||Check and replace filter periodically|
|Build a pump house||Pump House Inspection & Maintenance|
|Install power to pump house||Troubleshoot electric issues potentially|
|Connect well to house plumbing||Inspect pipe periodically|
While the upfront costs are high, the on-going costs mean that you have no water bill. Yes, you may need to pay for sewer unless you have a septic tank but generally your water is “free” but there is maintenance and the risk that an outage means you have no water. There is no one to call put an electrician, plumber or a core drilling expert to help when you run into issues.
Option 2 – Municipal Water (Using a Provider)
Getting water from your local town or municipality is a bit more straight forward. It would literally look like this:
Other than the price of the house and faucets which cost us money in either option 1 or 2, there is no real maintenance or build out cost. While the water certainly isn’t free, you are tapping into an economy of scale built by a much larger entity. When you run into issues, the repair is most likely covered by your local utility regardless of how many electricians, plumbers or tank specialists need to be called in to assist.
Advantages of Cloud Computing
Some advantages of using cloud computing rather than setting up your own systems:
- Security. Giving inbound and outbound access to any computer makes it vulnerable, cloud computing firms can give remote access to computing assets while protecting it from intrusion.
- Metered Billing. Setting up a dedicated computer (server) can cost easily over $1000, this maybe overkill if you need it to host a website that will only need 1% of the computing resources of the dedicated computer you’ve purchased. A cloud computing firm could sell you the needed computing resources for less than $10 per month depending on the amount of computing resources you will need.
- Universal Accessibility. Cloud computing resources can be reached from anywhere that has an internet connection. Opening up the internet to a computer on your own network (i.e. not using cloud computing) takes thoughtful planning and investment to ensure that only the resources you’d like to share are available to the world.
To really understand cloud computing, it’s helpful to know how computing started. Not necessarily how desktop computers worked but how organizations used applications that required the sharing of data. For instance This definition will make more sense with some historical context. If you wanted to deliver an application to employees, clients or to the world, it used to take purchasing a server (basically a computer with good specs) and installing the application on it. From there, you would expose the application to a network which allowed end users to login. So to really answer the question of what is cloud computing, we decided to go into this very long explanation of cloud computing before cloud computing existed in this form. Although one could easily argue that mainframes provided the function of cloud computing decades ago. More on that later.
The History of Enterprise Computing
To really understand Cloud Computing is, it’s best to understand what came before it to understand the relationship.
Note: This list is widely subject to debate and in some regards, we can look at almost any of these methods of application architecture as cloud computing if they were provided outside of a single office. But regardless, with the understanding of the background, the knowledge