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In basic terms what is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the provision of on-demand computing resources — from software to storage and processing capacity — usually over the Internet and on a pay-as-you-go basis.
How does cloud computing work?
Companies can rent access to anything from software to cloud service provider servers, rather than having their own computing resources or data centers.
One benefit of using cloud computing services is that businesses can escape the upfront expense and difficulty of owning and managing their own IT infrastructure and, by using it, simply pay for what they use.
Cloud computing service providers, in addition, will benefit from substantial economies of scale by providing the same services to a large variety of clients.
What are examples of cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the backbone of a wide range of services. This includes consumer services such as Gmail or cloud photo backup on your smartphone, but services that allow large corporations to store all of their data and run all of their applications in the cloud. Netflix also depends on cloud storage infrastructure to operate its video streaming service and a variety of other organizations.
For many applications, cloud computing is becoming the preferred option: software vendors are increasingly selling their applications as services over the Internet rather than as stand-alone products as they attempt to move to a subscription model. There is also a possible drawback to cloud computing, as it may also add additional costs and additional risks for businesses using it.
What cloud computing services are available?
Cloud computing services now cover a broad variety of options, from simple storage, networking, and processing capabilities to natural language processing, artificial intelligence, and traditional office applications. Almost any service that doesn't allow you to be physically close to the computer equipment you use can now be provided via the cloud.
What is the history of cloud computing?
Cloud computing as a term has existed since the early 2000s, but the idea of computing-as-a-service has been around for a long, long time — as far back as the 1960s when computer offices would allow businesses to rent time on a mainframe instead of purchasing one themselves.
The advent of the Laptop, which made owning a computer much more accessible, and then the emergence of corporate data centers where businesses would store massive quantities of data, essentially overtaken such 'time-sharing' services.
Yet the idea of renting access to computing resources has resurfaced time and time again — in the late 1990s and early 2000s cloud service providers, utility computing, and grid computing. That was accompanied by cloud computing, with the advent of software as a service and hyper-scale cloud computing services such as Amazon Web Services really taking hold.
Why is it called cloud computing?
A basic principle behind cloud computing is that the position of the service is completely insignificant to the customer, including many of the specifics such as the hardware or operating system on which it is run. It is with this in mind that the cloud's metaphor was borrowed from old telecoms network systems, in which the public telephone network (and later the internet) was mostly described as a cloud to signify only that it didn't matter — it was just a cloud of stuff. This is, of course, an over-simplification; the position of their facilities and data remains a key concern for many customers.
How important is the cloud?
According to the IDC report, building the infrastructure to sustain cloud computing now constitutes more than a third of all IT spending worldwide. Meanwhile, spending on conventional, in-house IT continues to decline as computing workloads continue to migrate into the cloud, be it public cloud services provided by providers or private clouds set up by businesses themselves.
451 Research predicts that this year about one-third of the company's IT spending on hosting and cloud services would imply an increasing reliance on external infrastructure, application, management, and security sources. Analyst Gartner expects that by 2021 half of the major businesses that now use the cloud would have gone all-in on it.
Global cloud spending will grow to $260 trillion this year, up from $219.6 trillion, according to Gartner. It is also rising at a faster pace than predicted by analysts. But how much of the demand comes from companies who genuinely want to migrate to the cloud and how much is being generated by vendors who now only provide cloud versions of their products (often because they want to migrate away from selling one-off licenses to selling potentially more lucrative and stable cloud subscriptions) is not entirely clear.
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