What is Cloud Computing

An introduction to Cloud computing and how it's changing the IT world.

Changing the very shape of modern computing and the Internet itself, Cloud Computing is a relatively new technology that can be defined in a number of different ways. At its core, however, it just means "running your applications on infrastructure other than your own."

Computing in the cloud makes many different solutions available to you. Both the tasks and the methods used to achieve them can be quite varied. You might need full infrastructure or perhaps just a back-end to build your application with -- or maybe you just need one narrowly focused service. These needs, as outlined, actually map exactly the three main service levels available with cloud computing.

Level 1: Software as a Service; when you just need a tool

The highest Cloud computing level is SaaS or Software as a Service. When you don't need an entire datacenter or infrastructure or even your own server, that's when you use SaaS. You might just need an application to perform a basic task like email, real-time chat, shared document writing, or social networking.

These are all examples of SaaS. So, Gmail, Salesforce, IBM'sNetSuite, Twitter, online games are all SaaS. In other words, if it's a software that you use from a browser rather than installing it onto your computer, that's Software as a Service.

Level 2: Platform as a Service; when you want to develop an application yourself

The intermediate level is Platform as a Service or PaaS. Rather than being a ready-to-use application like SaaS, PaaS is a foundation upon which you build your own application. Forget about hardware concerns, low-level configuration, firewalls, backups, and such.

The only thing you have to worry about here is the application itself. Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure are two examples of PaaS. This is probably the least known level yet the most powerful of all three. With PaaS, you control the application; it's your code.

Level 3: Infrastructure as a Service; when you want full control

IaaS is the lowest level of Cloud computing; that's Infrastructure as a Service. Here you outsource the hardware completely and build everything from scratch. You're working on someone else's bare metal, where they provide the networking, power, and cooling -- and you only pay for what you use, no more, no less. In a sense, IaaS is just a combination of computing power and cloud storage made available to you according to precisely how much of each you need.

You can build a whole datacenter with IasS if you want. It's up to you. In any case, large or small, you avoid risking lots of money on your own hardware that might end up being insufficient for your needs -- or way beyond them (think overkill). It's the pay-as-you-go approach that's key here.

Why choose Cloud Computing?

There are a number of good reasons to use Cloud Computing.

First of all, it frees you up to focus on what really matters: your innovative applications, your valuable users, and your crucial content without spending any time or energy on all the necessary infrastructure behind all of that.

Secondly, you can shift investments away from expensive and potentially risky capital expenditures to safer and more focused operational expenditures, where your money pays only for what you absolutely need.

Lastly, you will sleep easy knowing that all your data is safe in the cloud, housed and backed-up securely inside redundant systems, meaning they are virtually disaster-proof. You simply can not store your intellectual property in a more secure manner.


Of course, Cloud Computing is not free of risk. Like most anything, there are trade-offs. For instance, in exchange for having the use of someone else's quick and useful tool (an SaaS solution), you obviously give up the ability to change the code, fix bugs, or otherwise manage the SaaS to your own liking. All of this is the responsibility and property of the vendor. Privacy concerns also arise whenever storing and manipulating your work over someone else's infrastructure.

So why not just tackle Cloud Computing right away?

These inherent risks are just one of the many reasons why it's not wise to jump into Computing Cloud too quickly. First you need a clear understanding of how it all works, what products are out there, what solutions are available for your specific needs, and the inherent risk factors in your choices. Whether you are a senior developer, a DevOps, a sysadmin, businessman, marketing manager, or sales manager, if you really want to have a successful experience with Cloud Computing, you must first familiarize yourself with the cloudscape in order to truly harness the pros of Cloud Computing while steering well clear of the cons.

This is precisely what Cloud Academy was born to do: teach you Cloud Computing from the ground up so that you can carefully and seamlessly transfer your precise hard work up into the cloud like a pro. Do this very necessary homework with us and both you and your company will only thrive with your head in the clouds.

Now you know. See you on the cloud.