Cloud computing is the newest rage in the internet’s development. There are many different definitions of what cloud computing is. In the broadest sense, it can be defined as anything that happens outside of a firewall. A narrower focus defines it as a virtual server. For our purposes, we will consider it the latter. Cloud Computing in our definition eliminates the need to install and run applications on a user’s own computers and simplifies maintenance and support. Instead of having to develop internal systems, or having to customize a third party business solution, cloud computing provides a flexible environment with much lower initial cost.

Cloud computing is the set of hardware, networks, storage, services, and interfaces that combine to deliver different aspects of computing as a service. Cloud services include the delivery of software, infrastructure, and storage over the Internet. It can be delivered whenever and wherever a user needs a particular service. The services can be either separate components or complete platforms The delivery is based on user demand. There are four crucial characteristics of cloud computing. They include flexibility and the ability to scale up and down, application programming interfaces (APIs), stipulating and automatic billing, and metering of service usage in a pay-as-you-go model.

The cloud has several participants. Among them are business managers who take responsibility for the authority of data or services living in a cloud. Cloud service providers must provide a predictable and guaranteed level of service and security to all their constituents. Cloud service providers must take responsibility for cloud assets and maintenance. The service requester is a second user. Requesters can be private or public, part of a same organization managing the cloud, or part of a group sharing the cloud. A third participant is the end user who usually doesn’t know anything about the underlying technology.

Cloud computing comes in different forms. Public clouds are based on the standard cloud computing model, in which a service provider makes resources, such as applications and storage, available to the general public over the Internet. Public cloud services may be free or offered on a pay-per-usage basis. Private cloud is infrastructure operated solely for a single business or organization. They can be managed internally or by a third-party and hosted internally or externally. A drawback to private clouds is that organizations have to be buy, build, and manage them. This negates the economic model that makes cloud computing such a popular and fascinating concept.

Another cloud form is a hybrid of public and private clouds. They are named, not surprisingly, hybrid clouds. A hybrid cloud is a composition of two or more clouds that remain distinctive entities but are bound together. Hybrid clouds are connected in a way that allows programs and data to be moved easily from one deployment system to another. Community clouds share infrastructure between several organizations from a specific community with common concerns. They are managed internally or by a third-party and hosted internally or externally. The costs are spread over fewer users than a public cloud so not all the cost savings potential of cloud computing are realized.

Many businesses are eager to evaluate and realize the benefits of cloud computing. Businesses must also realize the potential business risks that the technology exposes. The chief risk is giving up control of your processes. Many analysts feel that performance and availability are two of the key factors to the widespread adoption of cloud computing. Security is a big concern for many enterprises as well.

Concerns aside, cloud computing is changing the way companies use technology to service customers, partners, and suppliers. Some businesses, such as Google and Amazon, already have most of their IT resources in the cloud. They have found that it can eliminate many of the complex constraints from the traditional computing environment, including space, time, power, and cost.