An Introduction to Cloud Computing

Cloud computing can be a confusing technology. It can be hard to determine if you should move to the cloud fully, partially, or perhaps build your own service offering for the cloud. Unfortunately, many of the discussions around cloud computing still revolve around enterprise IT, meaning that few are talking about what cloud computing means for startups and software companies.


Cloud Computing is getting quite a bit of buzz in the media right now. Are you wondering if you are missing out on something? There are several circumstances that have allowed cloud computing to emerge: 1.Internet standardization and protocols
2.The low cost of hardware and storage
3.Hardware virtualization, allowing more than one virtual server to share the same hardware.

These recent events now make constructing software applications easier, faster, and cheaper than before. It also provides anywhere/anytime access, preventing individuals and businesses from being tethered to their computer for software or data access. This is encouraging many companies to start evaluating and implementing cloud computing solutions as a means to increase revenue and decrease operating expenses.


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.

A cloud can be private or public. A public cloud sells services to anyone on the Internet. (Currently, Amazon Web Services is the largest public cloud provider.) A private cloud is a proprietary network or a data center that supplies hosted services to a limited number of people. When a service provider uses public cloud resources to create their private cloud, the result is called a virtual private cloud. Private or public, the goal of cloud computing is to provide easy, scalable access to computing resources and IT services.