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While the term “cloud computing” may seem nebulous, it actually has a very simple definition, according to PC Magazine: “storing and accessing data and programs over the internet.”
Most people use some form of cloud computing already, such as a student using Google Docs to work on a paper with a classmate or anyone who accesses their email from the web instead of an application. In other words, the information for the paper or the email don’t exist on the computer’s hardware; it’s stored in the provider’s cloud. Personal storage now requires less effort.
But cloud computing isn’t just for consumers. It’s also revolutionizing the way businesses are, well, doing business.
After choosing from one of the top providers, including IBM, businesses can select from three different service models of cloud computing: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS). These services are aptly named. With IaaS, the provider gives the business an entire infrastructure to work with. PaaS enables businesses to create their own custom applications that they can disperse via the cloud. SaaS provides the business with one or more cloud-based software applications to use for their purposes.
At first glance, these services seem fairly straightforward. However, there are a number of definitive advantages to cloud computing:
- It shifts the burden of maintenance and responsibility from the business to the provider. Local computers no longer require the capacity to run all the applications, and the company no longer needs a “whole team of experts to install, configure, test, run, secure, and update [the applications],” according to Salesforce. These differences bring both hardware and IT costs down, as local computers no longer need vast amounts of memory or the cutting-edge processing ability; they simply must be able to connect to the cloud system.
- Costs come down further by removing the need for on-site storage. With this remote storage services, companies no longer need to rent or buy physical space and facilities and purchase expensive equipment to store servers and databases, this HowStuffWorks report also points out.
- Cloud also offers extreme flexibility. Cloud services are pay per use, and can be adjusted easily to accommodate a company’s needs. SkyHighNetworks provides a good example: “A sales promotion might be wildly popular, and capacity can be added quickly to avoid crashing servers and losing sales. When the sale is over, capacity can shrink to reduce costs.”
- Employees across the business can access data and files at any time. Work doesn’t get trapped on users’ hard disks or flash drives, and the information accessed is always the most relevant and updated. This allows for seamless collaboration across geographies and time zones, which is transformative for multinational companies with offices all around the world.
Like other game-changing technological advances, cloud computing is here to stay.
Learn more about mobile cloud computing.