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Cloud computing is essentially infrastructure as a service. Using resources from distributed servers/computers, cloud computing frees you from the configuration of local servers. The cloud is another movement towards making computing a service that can be adjusted based on the needs of a business.
For example, for a business in retail that might need to utilize a large number of servers during the holiday seasons, but not nearly as many after the holiday seasons, cloud computing is helpful by allowing the business to aggregate server usage based on their needs.
Cloud computing has been gaining momentum, particularly in the SaaS environment. Organizations are quickly realizing the value in cutting costs through monthly subscriptions to software, rather than outright purchasing it and having it become obsolete. When newer versions of software become available, companies need to repurchase and sometimes increase the amount of infrastructure needed to support the new software. With cloud-hosted services, it is possible to utilize enterprise-level software through subscription, without worrying about the cost of infrastructure or upgrading to the latest version of software..
Cloud Computing is helpful in multiple ways. The primary benefits are that:
1) Time to market is significantly reduced.
2) Overall cost savings in maintenance costs from having business-owned servers to maintain. Cloud computing services also generally have a much higher guarentee for up-time that a smaller company running its own servers usually cannot match.
3) Organizations can cut software licensing and administrative costs through utilizing online services in the cloud, such as SharePoint, Exchange Server, and Office Communications Server. (More about Online Services in a cloud-hosted environment).
Cloud Computing is not for everyone or every company. As with any technology, it depends on the needs of the company whether or not it will be useful. For example, if your company has a large quantity of proprietary data, you would need to decide if you are comfortable placing your data and applications in a facility that you do not own or control. Cloud computing is ideal for a small to medium size business that has large spikes in infrastructure needs at varying times during the year, rather than a consistent need that in-house servers could sufficiently fulfill. Services available include Windows Azure, Amazon EC2, and GoGrid.
Cloud-Hosted Online Services
In most business cases, moving to a cloud-hosted environment for online services such as collaboration and unified communications services can significantly cut costs and improve business productivity. The Microsoft Online Services Business Productivity Suite (BPOS) offers enterprise services for a fixed monthly subscription rate, rather than outright purchasing software licenses. Many companies are moving to the hosted cloud environment since most vendors provide free upgrades to the latest versions of hosted software.
View the Case Studies:Microsoft Azure Cloud Computing Case StudiesAmazon EC2 Cloud Computing Case Studies
A comparison chart of different cloud computing services.—See more of the top cloud computing companies
*Pure pay-as-you-go:$0.12 per hour for computing$0.15 per GB for storage$0.10 per 10,000 storage transactions*SQL Azure database:$9.99 - basic Web edition (1 GB DB)$99.99 - Business Edition (10 GB DB)*Network bandwidth:$0.10-$0.15 per GB.
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