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What is Cloud Computing?

What is cloud computing? This article will define the basics of cloud computing including applications, platforms, and infrastructure. You may be using cloud computing software or applications and not even know it. Many Microsoft, Google, and Wikipedia apps are cloud computing services.

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One of the terms that you are likely to run into these days is "cloud computing." This is because cloud computing is rapidly becoming the wave of the future when it comes to interacting electronically online. As people become less anchored to one place when it comes to using computer technology, cloud computing could become more important. The technology is still relatively new, though, and not very widespread. But it is gaining in popularity. 

Basics of cloud computing 

At it's most basic level, cloud computing consists of pooled resources and services on the Internet. The idea behind cloud computing is that you can actually access personal files from anywhere with Internet access, and use applications without actually installing them on your computer. This makes the ability to perform a number of functions on the computer much more versatile, as you do not have to install the necessary, and you do not have to be at a specific computer to access applications and software. There are three main segments of cloud computing: applications, platforms and infrastructure. 

Applications 

One of the problems with cloud computing is that the model of pooled resources makes it difficult to succeed as a business model. Except in the case of the applications segment. Applications, so far, represents the only segment of cloud computing that has a successful business model. Applications are run from centralized servers over the Internet, rather than being pulled from on-site servers. Businesses (and individuals) can access these applications without installing them on computers, and without having to take up server space and pay for the hardware. 

Most cloud computing applications are on-demand, meaning that the user pays a subscription fee. This replaces the licensing fee that was generally paid in order to purchase the right to use the software. Instead, a subscription allows access to the application, and it is possible for the business or individual to access the application from anywhere, since the software provider is the one offering the resources to store and run the application. 

Platforms 

When you want to access applications, you normally do so from a platform. These platforms can also be provided via cloud computing, with the ability to access a platform over the Internet. Cloud computing allows end users that ability to access a variety of applications from one centralized location. This location is on the Internet, so it can be accessed from any computer. The platforms are often provided by individual companies that already provide applications available through cloud computing. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, NetSuite, Salesforce and other companies all offer cloud computing platforms. They also allow individuals the ability to set up their own business and sites by providing access to the platforms for use with applications. 

Infrastructure 

Even with cloud computing, physical space has to be provided somewhere. And this is the infrastructure. Certain companies provide the server space and the processing capabilities for cloud computing to become a reality. These companies offer servers for applications and platforms to be run from, and the processors to get through the data. There is even a capability for others to build applications that can then become part of the platform. 

These physical locations are accessible via the Internet. Anyone can access cloud computing applications and platforms from anywhere, using the Web to tap into the physical location of the servers and run the applications. Many of these companies also offer managed hosting. 

Benefits of cloud computing 

Two of the biggest benefits to cloud computing are that it is flexible and can reduce costs. Instead of having to buy servers, and employ the people to oversee them, businesses can subscribe to platforms and applications and save the server space. They do not have the IT costs associated with having to use their own servers. Instead, they pay a monthly subscription and use resources provided by someone else. Even with this cost, many businesses can save money with cloud computing. 

The other benefit is the flexibility. There is no need to have to be physically at a business location in order to collaborate and access platforms and applications. Instead, as long as you have access to the Internet, you can access your company's business applications from any computer. This makes it easier to share files and get more done, even with a spread out team. Additionally, it makes telecommuting more feasible and cost effective, again reducing overhead costs. 

While cloud computing still needs to gain a little more traction, chances are that it is the wave of the future.

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