Over the last few years clouds have become the buzzword in computing. But ask someone what cloud computing is and they’re likely to give you a very different answer to the person standing next to them.
Like clouds themselves, the definition of cloud computing is currently a little fuzzy.
Today cloud computing covers anything that involves delivering hosted services over the internet. These services are generally divided into three categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
Clouds are owned by large single parties such as individual companies and are usually used by small to medium commercial businesses and researchers. These users normally pay the provider to use their computing resources.
The name cloud computing came from the cloud symbol that is frequently used to represent the Internet in diagrams and flowcharts.
All cloud services have three unique characteristics that distinguish them from traditional hosting:
- They are commercial and sold on demand to users
- They are flexible - a user can have as little or as much of the service as he wants at any time and can quickly outsource peaks of activity without long term commitment
- They are fully managed by the cloud provider; the consumer requires only a computer and internet access.