What is cloud computing?

What Is Cloud Computing?

Everyone in the technology world is talking about it… and a lot of people in the business world are asking the same question, “What is cloud computing, and what does it mean for my business?”

Cloud computing platforms are growing in popularity, but why? What unique advantages does a cloud computing architecture offer to companies in today’s economic climate and what’s the impact on critically important areas to IT, like security, infrastructure investments, business application development, and more.

Most IT departments are forced to spend a significant portion of their time on frustrating implementation, maintenance, and upgrade projects that too often don’t add significant value to the company’s bottom line. Increasingly, IT teams are turning to cloud computing technology to minimize the time spent on lower-value activities and allow IT to focus on strategic activities with greater impact on the business.

Business applications are moving to the cloud. It’s not just a fad—the shift from traditional software models to the Internet has steadily gained momentum over the last 10 years – moving from CapEx to OpEx. Get ready. It’s the new normal. The next decade of cloud computing promises new ways to collaborate everywhere, including through mobile devices.

Before we get to the list, let’s define cloud computing. There are three types:

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS),
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

Cloud computing lets you rent the tech you want, paying a monthly fee for it. As this chart shows:

  • SaaS means renting just the app
  • PaaS means renting everything but the app (often used by app developers)
  • IaaS means renting just the hardware and tools to maintain the hardware (popular with startups and enterprises).

Life before cloud computing

Traditional business applications have always been very complicated and expensive. The amount and variety of hardware and software required to run them are daunting. You need a whole team of experts to install, configure, test, run, secure, and update them.

When you multiply this effort across dozens or hundreds of apps, it’s easy to see why the biggest companies with the best IT departments aren’t getting the apps they need. Small and mid-sized businesses don’t stand a chance.

Cloud computing: a better way

With cloud computing, you eliminate those headaches because you’re not managing hardware and software—that’s the responsibility of experienced vendors. The shared infrastructure means it works like a utility: You only pay for what you need, upgrades are automatic, and scaling up or down is easy.

Cloud-based apps can be up and running in days or weeks, and they cost less. With a cloud app, you just open a browser, log in, customize the app, and start using it. Businesses are running all kinds of apps in the cloud, like customer relationship management (CRM), human resources management, finance and accounting, sales management and much more. Some of the world’s largest and smallest companies have moved their applications to the cloud.

Who are the largest global cloud computing platforms today:

  1. Amazon Web Services
  2. VMware
  3. Microsoft
  4. Salesforce.com
  5. Google

Just how much bigger is Amazon Web Service’s cloud computing division compared to Microsoft and Google?

It’s hard to compare because none of these companies are very transparent about the revenues of their operations. Industry experts estimate that Amazon’s cloud revenue at more than $4.7 billion a year, compared to Microsoft’s public cloud IaaS revenue at $156 million and Google’s at $66 million. If those estimates are correct, then Amazon’s cloud revenue is 30 times bigger than Microsoft’s. Get the picture.

If you’re not thinking about Cloud Computing – start thinking about it. It’s the future. You’re already using it, you may just not know it, yet.