Cloud Computing: Definition, Characteristics, Applications

Definition of cloud computing

Cloud Computing can be defined as the way resources in a computer are provided to the users through a computer network. In cloud computing, data and software are not necessarily required to have the information required but rather, a browser and a few operating systems are necessary. The two are necessary for relaying information that is processed by different computers at various destinations. This is a cost-effective way of dealing with required computer services in that the user does not require carrying around his/her personal computer or other storage devices such as hard disks, CDs and DVDs. An excellent example of cloud computing is the internet, whereby several computers are connected to one server and the user can be able to access lots of resources such as games, music, personal files and many more by use of email, for example, Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail. In this case, there is no need for any hardware or software installation, maintenance is also not required. The internet is looked at as a cloud. The core aim of this technology is to deliver IT infrastructure to the end-user at a less cost, more convenient time, and taking care of the security issue. Various definitions for this technology exists depending on the context in which it is defined, for example, in a scientific approach, its definition looks at the service provided and the way this service is being conveyed to the user while from a commercial setting, the definition only looks at the service being provided but does not necessarily look at the architectural perspective. Also from a commercial context, a cloud is not the internet but the hardware and software at the data center. A cloud can either be public or private, depending on the users allowed to access it. When it is exposed for use by the public for payment in return, it is called a public cloud but when it is only used by the people in an organization, it is called a private cloud. In a commercial setting, the definition does not involve private cloud (Stanoevska- Slabeva 48).

Description of cloud computing

Cloud computing can be described by use of the common public utilities such as water, electricity and sewer system. If there was no centralized system for the delivery of these services, the owner would be forced to carry out all the processes to bring all these services at home. Generators will be required, fueling and maintenance would be vital in order to avail electricity failure to which there will be a blackout, pumping water from a well into or close to the house or fetching it from the rivers, treating it and storing will responsibility to be carried out by the house owner. As if not enough, the owner would be forced to run his own power plant to dispose of wastes generated from the house. If all these were left to the owner, then a lot of money and time would be required to successfully bring them to the user’s disposal. To relieve the owner of this entire burden, public utilities are preferred whereby the user only needs to connect a meter box for water and electricity and a sewer line for sewerage services and he/she pays for whatever amount is used by the end of the end. Here, the user does not have to understand all the processes required to bring all these services to his/her use but enjoys the services at a reduced cost and in the most convenient manner. Just like the utilities, if a personal computer is used for data entry, processing and storage, it would require the user to install all the required operating system, provide maintenance services and protect the device from attacks such as viruses and hackers. This will at the end amount into a lot of money but when cloud computing is involved then, all these services are available to the user without bothering on the process used for their processing and delivery. The resources provided by this IT technology are usually scalable and virtualized, usually, the users use web browsers to retrieve applications from the internet in a manner that they could have done if they were using their own personal computers provided all the necessary programmes had been installed. In cloud computing, servers are vital for they contain all the software and hardware required to process data into information that is useful to the users and store it (Ran 565). Clouds are also important because they are the centralized points from which the users access information they need, such include cyber café. This information can be accessed from any location in the globe and security issues are well taken care of by ensuring that information required is processed and availed to the user on request. This is possible when the user gives the necessary information such as the username and the password to the web browse.

Characteristics of cloud computing

When dealing with cloud computing, a cloud provider is paramount and there are characteristics this provider requires in order to ensure its efficiencies. These characteristics include:

  • elasticity which requires that the cloud be adjustable in order to accommodate the amount of resources in demand. Scalability meaning ;that the provider should be in a position to scale either depending on the nature of demand either high or low and it should also be capable of containing the changes that arise like the addition of users.
  • Provisioning: whereby the provider is independent in the provision of the services requested by the users and deprovision them automatically once they have been used.
  • Application programming interface (API): the provider needs such standardized interfaces necessary to give a mode of communication between the two applications so as to ensure an easy way of integrating the services. APIs based on Rest are the commonly used (Hurwitz et al para 2).
  • Billing: cloud computing uses the pay-as-you-go model whereby a meter is used to gauge the amount consumed. Today, VMware vCenter Chargeback is used in the aid of giving information on the consumption rate (Five defining characteristics of cloud computing Para 7).
  • Accessibility: users are in a position to access the resources regardless of the places they are, a browser is only what is required and nowadays one can even use a mobile phone to browse. It does not require a lot of skill and therefore many people can be in apposition to access information stored in the servers.
  • Maintenance: cloud computing is easy to maintain due the fact that they are centralized and not in the users PCs, any changes or improvements are available to the users immediately they happen. Supporting the system is also an easy task.
  • Multi-tenancy: with this technology, resources available are shared among a vast number of users which leads to a cut down on the costs involved.
  • Reliability: the system can be reliable for its efficiencies and this makes it important in the business and disaster recuperation sectors.

Technology used in cloud computing

This technology uses various devices such as smart phones, personal computers, laptops and others which provide for reliability, scalability and efficiency in terms of money and time. The cloud is used in graphic representation to depict the internet though in the real sense, it comprises of the hardware and software that are accessed by the users.The devices act as data centers which are located far away and the users does not need to know about their where about but they are capable of accessing them by use of browsers. Web and internet services are currently available and they are in a position to connect various computers regardless of their location in the globe. Cloud computing comes in three forms:

  • SaaS– software as a service in which an application is delivered and hosted by a provider without the involvement of the customer.
  • PaaS– platform as a service where an environment for computing is provided to the customer for creation and development of applications without the use of a company’s infrastructure.
  • IaaS– infrastructure as a service whereby a company gives out a data center for rent. Just like the clouds have layers, also the cloud has a back-end and /user end layer.

The users interact freely with the front layers in order to access their mails. The back end layer is comprised of the software and hardware to process the resources availed at the front end. The two layers work together as if they are one computer and they allow for any adjustment of the data incase of any changes in the amount on demand (Taty para 6).

Applications of cloud computing

Many applications have been innovated such as mint; which is used in the management of finance. It came into being in 2007 and it is a simple and safe concept that enables one store all his/her money information such as bank accounts into a centralized place and access them through the internet, cloud desktop, iCloud which provides for online storage and allows for web development, cloudo in which one can access stored documents and other information from anywhere provided the device used is being connected to the internet, eyeOS, panda cloud antivirus and many others (Singh Para 5).

Uses of cloud computing

Cloud computing has greatly been identified for various uses because of its flexibility and time saving characteristics. Some of the use this technology can be put into include ; provision of web services through the internet, shared service provision such as supply chain whereby application run are used by more than user, cloud bursting in which emergence resources can be retrieved in order to attend to an emergence task, research and development whereby the users can access lot of information required for carrying out different works and provision of solution to different problems without necessarily using the hardware and lastly because of its agility, it can be used to expound on applications by use of the solutions obtained from the internet (Bell, Kindahl and Thalmann 485).

Works Cited

Bell, Charles, Kindahl, Mats and Thalmann, Lars. MySQL High Availability: Tools for Building Robust Data Centers. Oklahoma: O’Reilly Media, 2010. Print.

Five defining characteristics of cloud computing. n.d. 2011. Web.

Hurwitz, Judith. “Cloud computing characteristics”. N.d. 2011. Web.

Ran, Chen. Intelligent Computing and Information Science: International Conference, ICICIS 2011, Chongqing, China, 2011. Proceedings, Part 1. Web.

Singh, Basant. “Best and free cloud computing applications”. 2010. Web.

Stanoevska- Slabeva , Karatina. Grid and Cloud Computing: A Business Perspective on Technology and Applications. Oklahoma: Springer, 2009. Print.

Taty. “How Does Cloud Computing Work”? Technology Explained. 2010. Web.