Cloud computing, also known as “the cloud”, is a “utility” approach to information management. It allows multiple users to access a network of shared computing resources, i.e. processors, storage, etc. The primary enabling technology for cloud computing is virtualization software, which separates computer hardware into one or more virtual devices. These virtual devices can be managed to perform computing tasks in the same way as physical devices.
The main benefits of the cloud include:
• Reduced investment in infrastructure
• Lower upfront and ongoing costs
• Less time required to get applications live
• Improved ability to scale (up or down)
• Greater access to computer resources
• Improved business continuity
The most common form of Cloud Computing is Software as a Service (SaaS), in which users access third party applications, databases and computer resources over the Internet. Another form is Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), where a business creates its own applications. In addition, with Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), companies use a third party IT backbone. (A backbone provides a path for the exchange of information between different networks.)
An example of the cloud is Google Drive. With this service, all of the processors, storage and applications are online and can be accessed from laptop and desktop computers, tablets, and smart phones.
A rapidly growing subset of Cloud Computing is Hybrid Computing, which is a combination of cloud computing and local computer resources. An example of Hybrid Computing is Microsoft Office 365, which uses application software stored on your computer and infrastructure in the cloud.
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