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Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, like the electricity grid.

Cloud computing is a paradigm shift following the shift from mainframe to client–server in the early 1980s. Details are abstracted from the users, who no longer have need for expertise in, or control over, the technology infrastructure “in the cloud” that supports them. Cloud computing describes a new supplement, consumption, and delivery model for IT services based on the Internet, and it typically involves over-the-Internet provision of dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources. The term “cloud” is used as a metaphor for the Internet, based on the cloud drawing used in the past to represent the telephone network, and later to depict the Internet in computer network diagrams as an abstraction of the underlying infrastructure it represents. Typical cloud computing providers deliver common business applications online that are accessed from another Web service or software like a Web browser, while the software and data are stored on servers. A key element of cloud computing is customization and the creation of a user-defined experience.

Most cloud computing infrastructures consist of services delivered through common centers and built on servers. Clouds often appear as single points of access for all consumers’ computing needs. Commercial offerings are generally expected to meet quality of service (QoS) requirements of customers, and typically include SLAs. The major cloud service providers include Microsoft, Salesforce, Skytap, HP, IBM, Amazon and Google.

Cloud computing derives characteristics from, but should not be confused with:

  1. Autonomic computing — “computer systems capable of self-management”.
  2. Client–server model – Client–server computing refers broadly to any distributed application that distinguishes between service providers (servers) and service requesters (clients).
  3. Grid computing — “a form of distributed computing and parallel computing, whereby a ‘super and virtual computer’ is composed of a cluster of networked, loosely coupled computers acting in concert to perform very large tasks”
  4. Mainframe computer — powerful computers used mainly by large organizations for critical applications, typically bulk data processing such as census, industry and consumer statistics, enterprise resource planning, and financial transaction processing.
  5. Utility computing — the “packaging of computing resources, such as computation and storage, as a metered service similar to a traditional public utility, such as electricity”;
  6. Peer-to-peer – a distributed architecture without the need for central coordination, with participants being at the same time both suppliers and consumers of resources (in contrast to the traditional client–server model)


In general, cloud computing customers do not own the physical infrastructure, instead avoiding capital expenditure by renting usage from a third-party provider. They consume resources as a service and pay only for resources that they use. Many cloud-computing offerings employ the utility computing model, which is analogous to how traditional utility services (such as electricity) are consumed, whereas others bill on a subscription basis. Sharing “perishable and intangible” computing power among multiple tenants can improve utilization rates, as servers are not unnecessarily left idle (which can reduce costs significantly while increasing the speed of application development). A side-effect of this approach is that overall computer usage rises dramatically, as customers do not have to engineer for peak load limits. In addition, “increased high-speed bandwidth” makes it possible to receive the same response times from centralized infrastructure at other sites.[citation needed]
Cloud engineering is a field of engineering that generally deals with the lifecycle of cloud computing solutions, including analysis, design, development, testing, integration, buildout, delivery, operation and consumption of cloud products and services.


Cloud architecture, the systems architecture of the software systems involved in the delivery of cloud computing, typically involves multiple cloud components communicating with each other over application programming interfaces, usually web services. This resembles the Unix philosophy of having multiple programs each doing one thing well and working together over universal interfaces. Complexity is controlled and the resulting systems are more manageable than their monolithic counterparts. The two most significant components of cloud computing architecture are known as the front end and the back end. The front end is the part seen by the client, i.e. the computer user. This includes the client’s network (or computer) and the applications used to access the cloud via a user interface such as Internet Explorer. The back end of the cloud computing architecture is the ‘cloud’ itself, comprising various computers, servers and data storage devices.

Key features

  1. Agility improves with users’ ability to rapidly and inexpensively re-provision technological infrastructure resources.
  2. Cost is claimed to be greatly reduced and capital expenditure is converted to operational expenditure. This ostensibly lowers barriers to entry, as infrastructure is typically provided by a third-party and does not need to be purchased for one-time or infrequent intensive computing tasks. Pricing on a utility computing basis is fine-grained with usage-based options and fewer IT skills are required for implementation (in-house).
  3. Device and location independence enable users to access systems using a web browser regardless of their location or what device they are using (e.g., PC, mobile). As infrastructure is off-site (typically provided by a third-party) and accessed via the Internet, users can connect from anywhere.
  4. Multi-tenancy enables sharing of resources and costs across a large pool of users thus allowing for:
  5. Centralization of infrastructure in locations with lower costs (such as real estate, electricity, etc.)
  6. Peak-load capacity increases (users need not engineer for highest possible load-levels)
  7. Utilization and efficiency improvements for systems that are often only 10–20% utilized.
  8. Reliability is improved if multiple redundant sites are used, which makes well designed cloud computing suitable for business continuity and disaster recovery. Nonetheless, many major cloud computing services have suffered outages, and IT and business managers can at times do little when they are affected.
  9. Scalability via dynamic (“on-demand”) provisioning of resources on a fine-grained, self-service basis near real-time, without users having to engineer for peak loads. Performance is monitored, and consistent and loosely coupled architectures are constructed using web services as the system interface. One of the most important new methods for overcoming performance bottlenecks for a large class of applications is data parallel programming on a distributed data grid.
  10. Security could improve due to centralization of data , increased security-focused resources, etc., but concerns can persist about loss of control over certain sensitive data, and the lack of security for stored kernels . Security is often as good as or better than under traditional systems, in part because providers are able to devote resources to solving security issues that many customers cannot afford. Providers typically log accesses, but accessing the audit logs themselves can be difficult or impossible. Furthermore, the complexity of security is greatly increased when data is distributed over a wider area and / or number of devices.
  11. Maintenance cloud computing applications are easier to maintain, since they don’t have to be installed on each user’s computer. They are easier to support and to improve since the changes reach the clients instantly.
  12. Metering cloud computing resources usage should be measurable and should be metered per client and application on daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. This will enable clients on choosing the vendor cloud on cost and reliability (QoS).

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