What Exactly is Cloud Computing?

People have been hearing the word cloud computing these days…But do they actually know what it is? Is it a new technology? What are the pros and cons of cloud computing? What is its future?

We think if we hear the word “cloud computing”, it is a new technology. But in reality, the word “cloud” refers to the Internet. What cloud computing does is to put the software that is supposed to run on local servers or the local network to the Internet. Nothing special about it. It has been done a couple of years back via virtual private networks or via hosted services like hosted e-mails or hosted websites.

Actually, the new technology surrounding cloud computing are what we call the “SaaS” or software as a service. Basically, SaaS is software that you rent, or that you use on a subscription basis, which runs on the Internet.  Recently, SaaS has been improving where it already supports enterprise software, CRM software, SCM software, and even financial software.

To summarize, cloud computing is the infrastructure, while SaaS are the software being utilized where in runs over the Internet, not on the local network or on a local server.

Who what are the pros and cons of it? One of the pros on using a cloud based computing application or a technology is it can be implemented fast. Why? It is because, the software has been assured to be running perfectly by the applications provider. What the user would only need is an Internet connection, and a subscription agreement with the software provider so it can work. The second advantage in using a cloud based application software is that it can easily be managed via a central location. No need for expensive maintenance jobs, or expensive equipments. The third advantage is if a user does not feel that the software application answers to his/her business requirements, then the user may terminate the subscription agreement. No questions asked. No expensive investments on the hardware, the software or on the maintenance aspect costs.

So what are the cons in using a cloud based application software? The first is security. People do not realize that most hosting sites or even vendor cloud infrastructures do not have adequate security like encryption or even VPN tunnels. Since a business user uses the Internet as its transmission channel, there are lots of ways on how to intercept information going from the users side to the vendors side. If you are a business owner, would you consider let’s say your financial information to be exposed? Or even your client’s records? The second con is contingency and availabiltiy. Sure, the vendors have their own service level agreements, but what happens if for example, their servers bogged down? Or even the Internet line (in case of underground earthquakes, are disconnected)? What will happen to a user’s business operations? Who is at fault if the downtime is caused by natural causes?

The third con in using a cloud based application software is it is generically used… No customizations, just off-the-shelf software that you run via the Internet. To support your business operations, there has to be some platform, in which, the cloud software application has to go to or interface with some of your internal business applications.

So there you go. Again, as I’ve mentioned, the hype of cloud computing exists way way back.

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