With all this talk of cloud computing we’ve decided to post a blog on just that. We’ve broken this blog down into 2 parts so that it’s easier to digest, so here’s part 1:

In a nutshell “Cloud computing is internet accessed computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are metered and provided on-demand and pay-as-you-use”

It means that instead of having all the computer hardware and software you use stored inside your company’s infrastructure, it’s provided for you as a service by another company and accessed via the Internet, usually in a completely faultless way. Exactly where the hardware and software is located and how it all works doesn’t matter to you, the user – it’s just somewhere up in the ether, “the cloud” represents The Internet.

The buzzword that is cloud computing can mean different things to different people but in essence the key idea is that it is a set of services provided externally and accessed via the internet.

Sussex cloud computing

You may not realise it but we all use cloud computing in some form or another. Webmail is perhaps the simplest and possibly most used – the idea that rather than having email downloaded to your computers email client, it can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection – the service provided by say Hotmail for example is a cluster of servers spread out all over the world and joined together in “the cloud” – the internet.

Creating documents over The Internet is a newer example of cloud computing. Just log on to a web-based service such as Google Documents and you can create a document, spreadsheet, presentation, or whatever you like using their Web-based software. Instead of typing your words into a program like Microsoft Word or OpenOffice, running on your computer, you’re using similar software running on a PC at one of Google’s world-wide data centres. Like an email drafted on Hotmail, the document you produce is stored remotely, on a cloud based Web server, so you can access it from any Internet-connected computer, anywhere in the world, any time you like.

The Initiative

The great thing is the end to end service is managed by someone else. If you’re using Google Documents, you don’t have to worry about buying umpteen licenses for word-processing software or keeping them up-to-date. Nor do you have to worry about viruses that might affect your computer or even about backing up the files created. Google takes care of all of that for you. Another benefit is the hardware you use can be much simpler. One basic principle of cloud computing is that you no longer need to worry how the service you’re buying is provided: with Web-based services, you simply concentrate on whatever your job is and leave the problem of providing dependable computing to someone else.

Cloud computing services are available on demand 24-7, 365. They are often bought on a “pay-as-you go” or subscription basis. So in general you buy cloud computing the same way you’d buy electricity, telephone services, or Internet access from a utility company. Sometimes cloud computing is free or paid-for in other ways (Hotmail is subsidised by advertising, for example). Just like electricity, you can buy as much or as little of a cloud computing service as you need from one day to the next.

Types of Cloud Computing

These days we all have PCs at our desks, we’re used to having complete control over our computer systems but that ultimately means complete responsibility for them as well. Cloud computing changes all that! It comes in two basic flavours, Public and Private, which are the cloud equivalents of the Internet and Intranets (external and internal). Web-based email and free services like the ones Hotmail provide are the most familiar examples of public clouds. Private cloud computing works in much the same way but you access the resources you use through secure network connections, much like an Intranet. Companies such as Amazon also let you use their publicly accessible cloud to make your own secure private cloud, known as a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), using virtual private network (VPN) connections.

In part 2 of this blog we’ll describe the 3 main types of cloud computing in more detail and discuss the benefits offered to SME’s.