Everyone has been hearing about something called “Cloud” or its’ formal name, “Cloud Computing”. So, I wanted to create this blog post to help explain Cloud, its’ parts, and answer some questions. Before I go on at this point I would advise those who are heavy into IT or telecom IT to perhaps stop reading. My goal here is not to present a technical white paper or review. It’s really to provide information to people who work at companies – small, mid-size, or large – where cloud computing is happening. Perhaps you’re seeing it as a consumer just downloading applications (apps) from your favorite web store.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. These services are broadly divided into three categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The name cloud computing was inspired by the cloud symbol that’s often used to represent the Internet in flowcharts and diagrams.
A cloud service has three distinct characteristics that differentiate it from traditional hosting. It is sold on demand, typically by the minute or the hour; it is elastic — a user can have as much or as little of a service as they want at any given time; and the service is fully managed by the provider (the consumer needs nothing but a personal computer and Internet access). Significant innovations in virtualization and distributed computing, as well as improved access to high-speed Internet and a weak economy, have accelerated interest in cloud computing.
So, the big thing to remember here is that cloud computing revolves around a hosted service concept. Additionally, you may hear the development portion of cloud is based on a “multi-tenant” architecture. To explain that in simple terms just think of a house. If it’s a one family house then that sole family pays for all the related housing costs. Everything. Additionally, much like a house there are those hidden costs that just pop up over the course of owning the house. How about cleaning the gutters? New hot water heater?
What cloud had done is simply take the apartment house concept and applied it to the computing industry. Now in that scenario there are six or eight families sharing the costs for the house. Hence the term “multi-tenant”. As opposed to a per license-based software application, many companies are inherently paying the development costs associated with perhaps a software application. The development service provider is then able to break out the development costs across a number of clients. So instead of one company having to pay $500,000 for development there are perhaps 10 or more companies paying $50,000 or far less for the same development costs. This concept has also expanded to other types of services like security, storage, infrastructure, and platforms.
Additionally, let’s get back to those hidden costs with our house example. Typically, in a software example 90% of the associated costs occur after implementation. They are the “unseen” costs associated with IT staffing, software upgrades, server upgrades, and maintenance just to name a few.
What cloud computing does is to create a different model:
- Lower costs
- Reduced time to deploy new functionality
- Access functionality (not currently available or generated by the business IT operation)
- Offer the opportunity to provide specific software (or other cloud services) to just a few employees when needed for specific tasks and when needed to accomplish those tasks.
- Free up resources
- Typically, this would be IT staff, money, space, or any number of items.
In short, the one great benefit of cloud computing is that it lets client companies concentrate on their core business, not on becoming or staffing an IT resource.
The three major segments of cloud computing (although this is a fast evolving space) are:
- Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas)
- Amazon Web Services
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
- Many hundreds of software applications coming into our technology space almost daily.
If you would like to comment on this blog post I’d ask that you please copy your post to my original blog site so we can keep the conversation going:
Regards – Dom
Dominic J. Frúges