Understanding cloud computing:Cloud computing represents a major change in how we store digital information and run computer applications. Instead of running programs and storing data on an individual desktop computer, everything is hosted in the “cloud” an assemblage of computers and servers accessed via the Internet. Our applications and documents are in the process of moving from the desktop into what experts call the cloud thousands of computers and servers, all linked together and accessible via the Internet. With cloud computing, everything we used to do on our desktop computer is now done over the web; we can access all our programs and documents from any computer that’s connected to the Internet.Order now
How does cloud computing work and how will it affect the way we work? The software programs we use are stored computer we own. The documents we create are stored on the computer on which they were created. And, although documents can be accessed from other computers on a network, they can’t be accessed by computers outside the network. With cloud computing, the software programs we use aren’t run from our personal computer, but are rather stored on servers housed elsewhere and accessed via the Internet. If our individual computer crashes, the software is still available for others to use. The same goes for the documents we create; they’re stored on a collection of servers accessed via the Internet.
All that matters is that the data is in the cloud, and thus immediately available to that user and to other authorized users. Inside the Cloud: How Cloud Computing Works?In cloud computing, a network of computers functions as a single computer to serve data and applications to users over the Internet. The network exists in the “cloud” of IP addresses that we know as the Internet, offers massive computing power and storage capability, and enables wide-scale group collaboration. Simply, the cloud is a collection of computers and servers that are publicly accessible via the Internet. This hardware is typically owned and operated by a third party in one or more data center locations. The machines can run any combination of operating systems; it’s the processing power of the machines that matter, not what their desktops look like.
Individual users connect to the cloud from their own personal computers or portable devices. To these individual users, the cloud is seen as a single application, device, or document. The hardware in the cloud is invisible . This cloud architecture is deceptively simple, although it does require some intelligent management to connect all those computers together and assign task processing to multitudes of users. Understanding Cloud StorageOne of the primary uses of cloud computing is for offsite data storage.
With cloud storage, data is stored on multiple third-party servers, rather than on the dedicated servers used in traditional networked data storage. When storing data, the user sees a virtual server?that is, it appears as if the data is stored in a particular place with a specific name. But that place doesn’t exist in reality; it’s just a pseudonym used to reference virtual space carved out of the cloud. In reality, the user’s data could be stored on any one or more of the computers used to create the cloud. The actual storage location may differ from day to day or even minute to minute, as the cloud dynamically manages available storage space.
But even though the location is virtual , the user sees a “static” location for his data?and can actually manage his storage space as if it were connected to his own PC . Cloud storage has both financial and security advantages over traditional storage models. Financially, the cloud’s virtual resources are typically cheaper than dedicated physical resources connected to a personal computer or network. As for security, data stored in the cloud is secure from accidental erasure or hardware crashes, because it is duplicated across multiple physical machines; because multiple copies of the data are kept continually, the cloud continues to function as normal even if one or more machines go offline.
If one machine crashes, the data is duplicated on other machines in the cloud. Understanding Cloud ServicesAny web-based application or service offered via cloud computing is called a cloud service. Cloud services can include anything from calendar and contact applications to word processing and presentations. Almost all large computing companies today, including both Google and Microsoft, are developing various types of cloud services. With a cloud service, the application itself is hosted in the cloud. An individual user runs the application over the Internet, typically within a web browser.
The browser accesses the cloud service and an instance of the application is opened within the browser window. Once launched, the web-based application operates and behaves like a standard desktop application. The only difference is that the application and the working documents remain on the host’s cloud servers. Cloud services offer many advantages to users. If the user’s PC crashes, it doesn’t affect either the host application or the open document; both remain unaffected in the cloud. In addition, an individual user can access his applications and documents from any location on any PC or portable device, via an Internet connection.
He doesn’t have to a copy of every app and file with him when he moves from office to home to remote location. Finally, because documents are hosted in the cloud, multiple users can collaborate on the same document in real time, using any available Internet connection. Why is cloud computing important? For developers, cloud computing provides increased amounts of storage and processing power to run the applications they develop. Cloud computing also enables new ways to access information, process and analyze data, and connect people and resources from any location anywhere in the world.
For IT departments, cloud computing offers more flexibility in computing power, often at lower costs. With cloud computing, IT departments don’t have to engineer for peak-load capacity, because the peak load can be spread out among the external assets in the cloud. And, because additional cloud resources are always at the ready, companies no longer have to purchase assets (servers, workstations) for infrequent intensive computing tasks. If you need more processing power, it’s always there in the cloud?and accessible on a cost-efficient basis. For end users, cloud computing offers all these benefits and more. An individual using a web-based application isn’t physically bound to a single PC, location, or network.
His applications and documents can be accessed wherever he is, whenever he wants. Documents hosted in the cloud always exist, no matter what happens to the user’s machine. And then there’s the benefit of group collaboration, for both individuals and organizations. Users from around the world can collaborate on the same documents, applications, and projects, in real time. It’s a whole new world of collaborative computing, all enabled by the notion of cloud computing. For everyone concerned, cloud computing does all this at lower costs, because the cloud enables more efficient sharing of resources than does traditional network computing.
When you tap into the power of the cloud, you get supercomputing power at PC prices?something that offers particular appeal to individuals and small businesses. And, with cloud computing, hardware doesn’t have to be physically adjacent to a firm’s office or data center; cloud infrastructure can be located anywhere, including and especially areas with lower real estate and electricity costs. Cloud computing is set to change the way everyone uses computers. End users and organizations will be able to tap into more computing power at lower prices, and do their computing from any location in the world. Add to this the untold benefits of enhanced collaboration, and you see why cloud computing is set to be the “next big thing” in the computing world.
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