Cloud computing, which is often simply referred to as the cloud, is the online delivery of on-demand computing services. These computing resources are remotely accessed and delivered to the end user as a network-based service through the Internet. These remote hardware and software resources can be better maintained through third-party providers who cut costs and helps users focus on their core business or personal needs.

Cloud-based Computing Categories

There are three primary service models of cloud-based computing: Infrastructure as a Service, Software as a Service and Platform as a Service. First, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the most basic cloud model because it simply provides the end user with virtual infrastructure. This usually appears in the form of servers and data storage space that cloud providers supply on-demand by hosting them from large data centers. Common examples include Google Drive and DropBox.

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The Software as a Service (SaaS) model provides end users with access to cloud-based applications. This means that the user doesn’t need to install and run the application on their own computer. Good examples are Google Docs and Calendar. The Platform as a Service (PaaS) model refers to user development and environment services to create and run in-house built software. This may include databases, web servers and even operating systems.

The Advantages of The Cloud

There are many benefits to both the organization and the end user. First, there is increased storage capacity because the cloud can accommodate almost unlimited amounts of data. This reduces the need for organizations to expand or upgrade severs and hardware. Second, it increases user convenience and continuous availability because users can easily access information at any time and location around the globe. Centralized availability of shared files, projects and document is extremely important to organizations with operations throughout their region and throughout the world.

Cloud-based computing increases cost efficiency because there is no need for internal servers, software and hardware. The cloud also reduces overhead charges related to internal labor, licensing fees, software updates and IT management. Payment models for the cloud are scalable, which means clients can switch between pay-as-you-go and one-time-payment options. The cloud is more environmentally friendly because it uses fewer resources and it also offers excellent backup and recovery support.

The Disadvantages of The Cloud

The cloud does come with recognized issues. For example, there is increased vulnerability because cloud solutions are exposed to the public Internet and are easy targets for malicious hackers. A remote cloud based infrastructure cannot be physically protected by locked server rooms and company security programs. Fortunately, the IT companies that offer cloud services will most likely offer better security than the client could afford or manage. Privacy is an issue because clients must trust that their cloud service host will protect their sensitive and confidential data from unauthorized users.

One common disadvantage of the cloud is that the client becomes dependent on the provider. This may result in the client becoming locked in with a certain vendor, which makes it difficult and expensive to migrate to another provider. All technology solutions are subject to occasional downtime and technical difficulties. Because the cloud is dependent on Internet access, any local network or connectivity problems will create serious business interruptions.

Despite the minor disadvantages, cloud computing offers excellent efficiency and cost savings. You can read more about the hidden benefits of cloud computing here.