What is Cloud Computing? Cloud computing allows you to access your data without understanding or being responsible for its infrastructure, depending on software as a service. A report published by leading analyst firm Gartner says that it’s a developing concept that combines Software as a Service, (SaaS), Web 2.0 and other recent Internet-based trends.
At its best, cloud computing allows you to outsource your infrastructure and get rid of your IT department. Many startups use it to avoid costs. But executives have also learned that mission-critical applications can sometimes go down. Prominent outages have recently occurred at Amazon and eBay.
Cloud computing is not the same as grid computing, which is simply a cluster of loosely connected computers that distribute tasks among themselves. The report, Market-Oriented Cloud Computing: Vision, Hype, and Reality for Delivering IT Services as Computing Utilities reports that many cloud computing deployments are today powered by grids, have autonomic characteristics and are billed like utilities. Cloud computing is a natural next step from grid computing. Some successful cloud architectures have little or no centralized infrastructure or billing systems whatsoever including peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent and Skype and volunteer services like SETI.