Cloud computing or computing in the cloud is now one of the latest happening trends in the business world and the “next big thing” after Web 2.0. According to a 2008 paper published by IEEE Internet Computing “Cloud Computing is a paradigm in which information is permanently stored in servers on the Internet and cached temporarily on clients that include desktops, entertainment centers, table computers, notebooks, wall computers, handhelds, sensors, monitors, etc.” In other words, we can say that this is about increasing an organization’s or user’s capability by using different applications from some external servers without investing much on its own infrastructure and maintenance of local servers. Rather the organization/user pays for raw computing power. Here the word “cloud” is used as a metaphor for internet.
The basic architecture of this cloud computing is a massive network of interconnected servers where the web applications reside. The user accessing these applications need not be aware of the physical location of the application’s computer. This not only reduces the cost of installing licensed software at the end user’s computer but also saves the cost associated with deploying, maintaining and upgrading of different business technologies.
I guess by now you have been able to understand what Cloud Computing is all about and would like to know how one can access such services. There are a number of companies who offer such services. Prominent among them are Amazon with their Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Google with their Google App Engine. There are also many internet service provider companies who rent space and time on these servers. The amount they charge for this is based on processing time or disk storage. Microsoft has also launched its own recently called AZURE. Azure offers service platforms for web developers, corporate developers, ISVs, system integrators and business. Though it is still not clear about how you need to pay for it but is believed that it will be based on pay by use on processing time, disk storage and bandwidth.
Cloud Computing is a relatively new concept promising the most optimal utilization of computing resources. However we are waiting in baited breadth to see the silver lining on it!