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What is Cloud Computing?
It's not just using a laptop on an airplane
By Red Squirrel


Cloud Diagram

Cloud computing has been a hot topic in the past few years as computer hardware becomes more powerful allowing for more to happen on a single or small group of machines which can act as a server farm. While a lot of cloud computing technology is not new, there has been lot of advancements and new ideas that have come up.

When drawing a network diagram, a cloud normally refers to an unknown network or a network you do not care about the details. Most of the time, a cloud is drawn to represent the Internet. Cloud computing is anything that happens in that network. It's been around since the Internet itself, but it's form has seen new additions and overall changed. This article will go over various forms of cloud computing and look at the advantages and disadvantages.

What is Cloud Computing?
Most of the time, when a company is offering you cloud computing services, they are basically offering you a service to outsource all or part of your IT to them and they'll host it. These services can vary from only bare metal support to full application support. For a small business, it may be a viable option. For example, some companies may be able to host the email and collaboration services, and perhaps even document processing services. This saves the business from worrying about backups, maintenance, etc. Some of them may not even have an IT department or simply have one that is too small to start managing servers, workstations and the network itself. Sometimes it's simply not worth buying the hardware for the servers.

Back in the old times when there was dumb terminals connecting to a mainframe, this concept was a primitive form of cloud computing. The dumb terminals are very basic machines and the actual processing is happening at the mainframe. Today it is more advanced, but the concept is making a come back. You have a basic computer with perhaps a base install of Windows or Linux, and you use a thin client such as RDP or a web browser to access your information that is hosted on a 3rd party system, aka "the cloud".

On the next page we'll go over some of the many variations that are available today and go over a newer form which is hosted IT services.

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