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IT Consulting – Cloud of confusion

The range of definitions offered to explain the concept of cloud computing can seem overwhelming. Wikipedia describes the cloud as ‘dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources provided as a service over the internet’ whereas the New York Times defines cloud computing simply as ‘a mushy term’.

Typically cloud computing is used as a nonspecific term to describe several styles of service delivered to end-users via the internet, which can be broken down into three main areas:

  • Multiple arrays or grids of computers on a network used to work on complex, data-intensive problems, allowing users to simultaneously harness the computational power of any number of PCs accessed via the internet (or cloud).
  • The infrastructure cloud is a logical development of grid computing whereby commercial organisations such Amazon Web Services offer customers pay as you go access to scalable remote storage and processing.
  • Finally, software as a service (SaaS) provides organisations with the opportunity to purchase access to a disparate range of applications, including CRMs such as salesforce.com and document creation tools such as Google Apps. Available online and accessed from a low-level machine anywhere in the world, the onus for maintaining licences, back-ups and disaster recovery is on the service provider.
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