The model of computing which we have all grown used to – and which is exemplified by the Windows or Mac desktop machine you probably have in front of you now, has evolved over the past 30 years, but it is not the only way of accessing applications.
Often seen as the way ahead even for home computers, cloud hosting is the name for a system that gives computer users access to applications via the Internet, without the need to have installed them on their own computers. Thus, to give a very simple example, the user wanting to use Word would log on to the Internet and go to a data center that would hold all the programs he needs.
What we mostly use today is what is now being called “fat clients.” A PC or laptop is actually a very well resourced machine with a lot of working memory, much disk space and a whole heap of software installed on it. It uses network resources such as websites and email servers, but the data from these feed applications are stored on the local machine and run on the machine’s internal processor. Computer users only really use cloud computing if they have web-based email.
Cloud computing turns this model on its head, the thinking being that it is illogical or inefficient for everyone to have a copy of Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop on their local machine. These applications should run in a central resource “cloud,” take input from users over the Internet, and show their output the same way. So far as the user would be concerned, things would look pretty much the same, but when he clicks on Microsoft Word, he would be commanding that application to be run somewhere inside the cloud, instead of inside his own machine.
The cloud computing model has the single and obvious disadvantage of making users totally dependent on their network connection and its performance, but there are numerous benefits. The user is no longer responsible for software updates and patches, and no longer needs to worry so much about viruses or intrusions, does not have to perform disk space management, backups, defragging, fixing file system errors, doing lengthy disk checks after system crashes, and so on. The user is enabled to use a far wider range of applications and different licensing models. Rather than paying to buy and install an application on his PC, a user can pay-per-play. For an equivalent spend, users can rent access to a wide range of different applications whenever they need them, rather than spending the same money buying expensive software packages, parts which they may not use much.
The cloud provider can also store documents, images and any other kinds of data created by users. Again, this absolves users of any responsibility for data management and puts the onus on the cloud operator. Cloud computing also provides the facility for location independence: you request a service from the cloud (for example “open my sales figures spreadsheet for last year”). You will never know whether the cloud met your request using facilities in London, Hong Kong, or Paris.
Posted by admin on March 6th, 2011 :: Filed under Cloud Hosting
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