Sunday, December 1, 2013

Introduction to Cloud Computing: the 3 things you need to know

Before getting into Cloud computing it's important to understand a bit of background and the three things you need to know about it..
The 'cloud' in cloud computing in the beginning refers to the Internet. The internet was referred as "the cloud" in the early days of public use of the internet. It was chosen so because it represented the nature the computers on the Internet, the network that connects them and the services offered by these computers. The computers were not always connected,  the network not always accessible or fast enough and the services not always available. There was a diaphanous quality to it. It was the opposite the way computers were back then to businesses.  The computers were usually in the office or somewhere in the organization. The company owned and operated the network and making the services available all the time was job no 1.
1. Cloud Computing is about cost reduction. Going by the explanation above, going to the cloud meant introducing a number of uncertainties.  Why would businesses consider them? Because of cost. The cost of making everything run, connected and available is very high. Going to the cloud is a cost reduction move. There is a lot of projects that claim to be 'going to the cloud'. As long as it is understood that the project is about cost reduction, the more likely the project will be considered a success.
2. Cloud computing is about virtualization. Cloud computing also is made possible by an old technology made new.  Mainframe computers were very expensive. So the engineers came out with a way of running several computers within a mainframe system. This is called virtualization. The ability to run many virtual computers within a physical computer is used in most cloud computing initiatives. This capability reduces the number of computers needed to bought and reduces the cost of running computers simply because there is less of them. Virtualization also allows businesses to 'make' computers that they need only for a short period of time. This allows businesses to handle seasonal work or test new systems without actually buying more computers.
3. Cloud computing is about sharing. With cloud computing, companies share the same computers for many purposes. Using virtualization, different departments can use the same computer for different purposes. This idea is extended further by another Internet technology, virtual hosting. Virtual hosting allow the same application or service to be used by different people at the same time but with privacy. The would not be able to see each other's data or even know about who else is using the same application or service on the same computer. Cloud computing can also refer to this, which is actually called cloud services. Sharing also means reducing costs. There are companies which offer this capability as a business. They have an application or service that other businesses subscribe to but are essentially sharing together. This way businesses reduce their costs because buying and running the application would be too expensive. The companies offering this service are called application service providers.
Have these three things in mind when listening to people talk about cloud computing and as you manage parts of the business that use cloud computing.

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