The term cloud computing was inspired by the cloud symbol often used to represent the Internet in diagrams. Cloud computing is a term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. The services are broadly divided into three categories:
- Infastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): A form of equipment outsourcing service via the Internet used to support a company’s operations. The IaaS supplier owns all equipment and is responsible for the housing, running and maintenance. The user simply pays a by the minute, hour or monthly rental fee. Example: Amazon.com
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): This is hosted software that the user doesn’t own, but pays for what they use. Example: Email accounts such as Hotmail or Google, CRM systems.
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): Provides developers a platform to create their own SaaS application without having to buy and maintain the hardware, software and hosting facility. Example: Facebook
The goal of cloud computing is to provide easy access to computing resources and IT services. There are many variations, but for the sake of keeping things simple, here are three basic criteria that must be followed for it to be cloud computing:
- It is hosted in a way that uses the Internet to access the services.
- You don’t own it. You basically rent it, and generally pay monthly for what is used.
- Except for paying for usage, the user doesn’t need to do anything to scale up to a larger footprint. Scalability is built into the cloud and generally the reason users want to get involved.
Through cloud computing, users can easily access applications from a server through the Internet. This innovative form of computing has enabled numerous users from all over the world to access applications without having to install programs on their personal computers.