Cloud computing is a subscription-based service much like electricity or water supply. You plug your system into the Internet and use on-line resources that you pay for monthly or annually and so relinquish ownership of computer hardware by contributing to the upkeep of your cloud providers' systems. Although you are not taking on assets as an individual or company, you are also not suffering from devaluation of those assets or having to maintain and secure them. The upshot is, that instead of suffering bills from development, environment, security and performance you simply pay for connectivity and contribute a subscription to cover the provider who administers and pays for all of the required services to be provided to their clients.
Now that most businesses are in the Cloud in at least some capacity, such as for email or cloud backup, services are being developed for cloud performance and monitoring as well as security. The cloud is being targeted more often by attackers as the data is often as valuable as anything kept on systems that would not have historically been connected to the Internet. Security systems with multi factor authentication are often paired with traditional passwords to strengthen system security and avoid obvious passwords leading to systems becoming compromised. Machine learning systems are sifting and indexing information on our behalf inside of the cloud in the same way the search engine spiders do. The cloud has become the obvious place to store financial accounts information, email and file systems for even the largest companies.
'Clouds' were a term originally attributed to MPLS networks or 'Clouds' when the details of connectivity was not known to the end user and routers were still rather a black art. Early applications for drawing network schematics often surrounded the icons for servers with a circle, and a cluster of servers in a network diagram had several overlapping circles, which resembled a cloud. In analogy to the above usage, the word cloud was used as a metaphor for the Internet and a standardized cloud-like shape was used to denote a network on telephony schematics. Later it was used to depict the Internet in computer network diagrams. With this simplification, the implication is that the specifics of how the end points of a network are connected are not relevant for the purposes of understanding the diagram. The cloud symbol was used to represent networks of computing equipment in the original ARPANET which was the basis for the modern Internet network.
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) refers to on-line services that prevent the user from any responsibility regarding hardware or environment. In this case the user is responsible for all matters concerning software but not for any matters concerning the platform on which the software runs. A good example might be where a customer rents rackspace from a data centre and then installs and configures the servers with their desired operating system so that a highly specific corporate set-up may be implemented. This type of arrangement is favoured by large enterprises who have a set of pre-defined images they will inject to a set of hardware so that their internal infrastructure may be extended to alternative sites for the purposes of data protection or disaster recovery. This type of service oftend goes hand-in-hand with intense VPN or VLAN usage bringing connectivity from their centres of operation.
PaaS differs somewhat from IaaS in that the OS and platform are provided by the PaaS provider. This service is often a provision from vendors on a huge scale for users wishing to have a virtual or physical server in the Cloud for use as a web front end or similar. The operating system will be patched to a level agreed as part of an SLA specifying the downtime and installation hours and will enable the user to simply install and either test or roll-out applications online for maximum reliabilty and minimum systems interference. The PaaS offering is akin to having an external systems support team administering your server and for a team of developers wishing to maintain or develop an application it often provides the most convenient way of keeping an application online, secure and reliable.
In the software as a service (SaaS) model, users gain access to application software and databases. Cloud providers manage the infrastructure and platforms that run the applications themselves. This is the most popular implementation method concerning many cloud applications. SaaS is referred to as "on-demand software" and is usually priced on a pay-per-use basis or using a subscription fee. In the SaaS model, cloud providers install and operate software in the cloud and cloud users access the software with a browser. Cloud users do not manage the cloud infrastructure and platform where the application runs. This eliminates the need to install and run the application on the cloud user's own computers, which simplifies maintenance and support as long as browser versions remain consistent.
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