Topics / Hardware and Software / Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing

The cloud is simply a metaphor for the Internet.

Cloud computing is storing and accessing data or programs through the Internet.

Utilising cloud computing gives the flexibility of working anywhere where you can get an online connection.

This is in contrast to how data and programs are normally accessed, which is locally through your computer’s hard drive (or network).

This means being committed to the physical device or network where your work and programs are saved.

Cloud computing is big business.  It requires a solid infrastructure that can deal with the huge amounts of processing needed to make it work efficiently.


Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

SaaS is the name given to software that is delivered through the Internet, and usually accessed by a web browser.

It is usually provided on a subscription basis.

Having the application managed by the third party provider ensures your software is always up-to-date, and means fewer technical issues to deal with locally.

SaaS is in total contrast to software that is traditionally purchased outright (e.g. on a disc) and installed locally on the hard drive.

Examples include:

  • Google Apps
  • MailChimp
  • Office Online
  • Dropbox

Advantages of SaaS:

  • Reduction in money and time spent on software upgrades
  • Available on any device, anywhere with an Internet connection

Concerns about SaaS:

  • Downtime, e.g. planned maintenance schedules (that may not be convenient) or cyber attacks
  • The security regarding the transfer of sensitive data over the Internet
  • Lack of control over the software, e.g. appearance, scheduled updates etc
  • Vendor Lock-In, e.g. is your data exportable to other providers should you wish to change

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

Resources made available as a cloud based service.

IaaS services include storage, networking, processing and virtualisation.

Businesses can purchase resources on-demand, never needing to actually buy or maintain the hardware.

This provides a highly flexible and scalable solution where hardware can be paid for based on the current needs of the business or project.

Examples include:

  • Rackspace
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Cisco Metapod

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

PaaS are hardware and software tools available over the Internet.

PaaS is used to provide a platform for software creation.

Using PaaS allows developers to focus on coding their applications and not worry about the OS, storage or hardware.

It also allows many users to work on the same project together, and provide tools to help test and deploy applications.

Examples include:

  • Windows Azure
  • Google App Engine
Topics / Hardware and Software / Cloud Computing