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What is Cloud Computing?

Posted June 30th, 2015

Even if you don’t know what cloud computing is, you’ve probably used it before. Do you have an email account with Gmail, Yahoo!, or Hotmail? Then you’ve used cloud computing. The basic concept of cloud computing is this: instead of installing a piece of software locally on your computer (like you would with an installation disc), you load and run it as an application.

Instead of running the software locally from you computer, you’re running it as an application through a web-based service that hosts the program.


How Is Cloud Computing Useful?

Cloud computing is not just used for email. It can be used to run just about any kind of program you can think of. With it, the local computer running the application no longer has to do the heavy lifting.

Instead, the network of computers that make up the cloud take on the majority of the workload. All it takes for the user’s computer to run the application is the cloud computing system’s interface software, which can be something simple like a web browser.

If we use email as an example, you can quickly see how cloud computing has changed the entire computer industry. Before cloud computing, you would have to check your email by running an email program stored locally on your computer. Not only would this use up space on your hard drive, load times would be longer, and you could only access your email with that computer.

With cloud computing, however, you can log into your email account remotely, giving you faster load speeds, freeing up hard drive space, and allowing you to access your email from any device connected to the Internet. The Convenience and efficiency of cloud computing cannot be overstated.


How Cloud Computing Works

The easiest way to understand how a cloud computing system works is by dividing it into two sections: the front end and the back end. These two sections interact with one another through a network of some kind, usually the Internet.


Front End

You can think of the front end as the side you, the user, sees. The application makes up the main part of the front end and is what accesses the cloud computing system.

Each cloud computing system has its own user interface. This is mostly due to the cloud computing system the program uses. Web-based emails, for instance, leverage existing web browsers like Google Chrome or Firefox. Other systems have unique applications that provide network access to clients.


Back End

The back end of the system is made up of various computers, servers, and data storage systems. The whole system is administered by a central service that monitors traffic and client demands. Essentially, its purpose is to make sure the system runs smoothly.

It does all of this by following a set of rules called protocols and uses a special type of software called middleware. This software allows the networked computers to communicate with each other.

Servers are used as processing power, making them the workhorses of the system. Most of the time, these servers aren’t running at full capacity.

To maximize the servers output, technicians use a method called virtualization to fool the server into thinking that it’s actually multiple servers, each running its own independent operating system. Doing this reduces the need for more physical servers. With enough computing power, a cloud computing system could run just about any program you can imagine.

The data storage systems work to store client data. This allows users to quickly access their data and keep backups in case of emergencies. For more on storage systems, see our post on cloud storage.


Added Benefits of Cloud Computing

The application of cloud computing is practically limitless. The benefits of cloud computing include:

  • Clients can access applications and data from anywhere at any time.
  • Brings down hardware costs.
  • Organizations could have company-wide access to applications and would not have to buy sets of software or licenses for every employee.
  • No need for onsite servers and storage devices.
  • Saves money on IT support.
  • Better network processing power.

For more on how your business could benefit from cloud computing, see our Cloud Services page.

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