The Ultimate Guide to Understanding
Cloud Computing

Introduction to Cloud Computing

Introduction to Cloud ComputingAs if the introduction of the computer weren’t revolutionary enough, computing technologies have been evolving rapidly ever since their creation. From the 30-ton ENIAC monster to the chess master Deep Blue and the Jeopardy-winning Watson, computers have always been getting faster, smarter, and more powerful. Of course, as the speed and power of our computers grow so have the complexity and size of our tasks, and even today’s most advanced personal machine is only capable of so much.

As tasks grow, perhaps a single machine isn’t the answer. Perhaps we need to look at something bigger—a processing network of machines. In fact, we already do this, and we call it cloud computing.

Cloud Computing Definition

What is the Definition of Cloud Computing?

Cloud Computing noun

Cloud Computing Definition

Cloud Computing refers to on-demand Information Technology (IT) resources, such as database storage, computational power, and programs or applications. Cloud Computing is typically membership based or pay-as-you-go, and is the answer to tasks that are too much for a single computer or system to handle. Its versatility makes it a useful tool for anything from email servers to crunching big data.

But, what does this all mean in practical terms? The cloud computing business model centers around a user paying a service fee to providers to gain access to systems offered leveraging internet access in lieu requiring program installation. Previously, any program we used necessitated a direct install to our hard drive. Now however, the world of cloud computing has given us the means of accessing an explosive number of platforms and software available by accessing these services on the internet, on-demand and from any computer.

The benefits to cloud computing are many, but first let’s dive a little deeper into these tools and technology to understand the terminology behind it.

Cloud Computing Terminology

  • IaaS
  • XaaS
  • PaaS
  • SaaS
  • Database Storage
  • Computational Power
  • Cloud Optimization
  • Private Cloud
  • Public Cloud
  • Hybrid Cloud
  • Economy of Scale
  • Service-Oriented Architecture
  • Agility
  • Device/Location Independence
  • Resource Pooling
  • Multitenancy

Cloud Computing Explained

A Simple Explanation of Cloud Computing

Imagine that you’re moving to another house. You have to move your clothes, a kitchen full of supplies, a growing number of appliances and then all your furniture. By yourself, there’s only so much you can carry at a time—and when it comes to the appliances and furniture, there are plenty of things that you can’t move at all on your own. The obvious solution is to get some help. Whether you bribe friends with pizza and beer or hire a moving company, you call in some extra hands and some extra strength to get your things moving.

Now, switch out “extra hands” for database storage and “extra strength” for computational power and, voila you have the essence of cloud computing. At times, cloud computing is your only means of solving problems. A single server could never keep up with Netflix’s on demand streaming for example. And other times it is like those proverbial boxes of books and winter coats. You could move them yourself, but you’ll have an easier time with extra help. Cloud computing similarly gives you access to programs and services you would not have the power to run on your own personal computer, as well as it possible your computer run those simple and habitual tasks more smoothly.

More technically speaking, Cloud Computing is a way to take advantage of various IT resources without having to install or pay for expensive hardware. This can help budget monetary costs as well as budget physical space in a location. Effectively, cloud computing is able to instantaneously outsource the heavy lifting to another database or computational system.

Categories of Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing Categories Explained

With Cloud Computing, the most important thing a company has to know before starting development and offering a service is just how much they are willing to work with the details of the cloud. There are several defined categories of cloud systems to choose from.

Category A: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

This is the most flexible cloud computing option because it uses what are considered the basic building blocks of the concept. IaaS will provide computers (virtually or with physical hardware), networking features, and data storage. A company has the liberty to manipulate these elements in order to build their application, program, website, or whatever it might be that they’re wanting to build and in whatever way they need to compose these elements together to deliver their idea. IaaS is the most similar option to the more “common” IT resources regularly available outside of cloud computing.

Category B: Platform as a Service (PaaS)

With PaaS, those basic elements (computers, networking, and data storage) are managed by a third-party service provider. The company is then able to build their application without having to worry about the infrastructure. This option is a great way to start developing a cloud-based application or program without necessarily having full knowledge of (or the work of managing) the underlying infrastructure. The drawback being, since the infrastructure is managed by a provider, there is not as high of a degree of customizability as IaaS.

Category C: Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS may be the least customizable option but it is also the quickest and simplest of the three categories. With SaaS, the user or company receives a completed product. No additional development is required, the product is ready to use immediately. The tradeoff is that the service company completely runs and manages the program. It won’t be possible to look under the hood and make adjust to the application as with the other two options, yet it remains an effective and popular form of cloud computing. Most email and messaging services function in this way—you send and receive emails without ever worrying about how or why something is happening behind the screen.

These are just high-level summaries of primary categories with cloud computing, and even that is a lot to take in. SaaS has become a popular buzzword in today’s world that you may have heard without fully comprehending what it is, but terms like PaaS and IaaS are likely new to you. Yet, you have probably been happily using such services despite this. Here are some real-world examples of these cloud computing technologies as you might know them:

  • Any time you check your email, when you enjoy the flexibility to log in from any computer in the world, you’re tapping into a cloud-based service.
  • If you use Google Drive, Dropbox or other cloud storage and file-sharing accounts, by saving documents to these servers and later accessing them from somewhere else you’re using cloud technology.
  • Using similar platforms for real-time shared idea boards, spreadsheets or other documents between multiple people from multiple computers represents the full force of cloud computing.

Cloud Computing News

Latest Developments in Cloud Computing News

The field of cloud computing is continually growing with core technology advancements, software and hardware improvements, and new products. Staying up to date with the latest cloud computing news is a vital component of staying on top of this rapidly growing industry. cover the latest in internet of things news, cloud computing news, and big data news.

How Does Cloud Computing Work?

How Does the Cloud Work?

Any cloud computing service must be provided by a company or other entity with the sufficient hardware and infrastructure to be able to carry out the tasks offered. Whether this means having a single, centralized home for data storage and computational power, or a large paralleled network, the cloud must be managed by an operating source. This source or entity (usually a software company) then charges clients for access to this resource. This can include storing large amounts of data that wouldn’t fit on local servers or personal clouds, executing complicated code that would take unfeasible amounts of time to process on a local network, or something as simple as providing a database that is safely accessible at anytime from anywhere.

Behind the scenes, this infrastructure uses what the tech world calls The Cloud Computing Reference Architecture (CCRA). This refers to all the building blocks of how cloud computing software and services are delivered, including:

  • WHERE the cloud will be implemented (in what type of cloud—IaaS, PaaS, SaaS)
  • WHAT operating system service (OSS) will actually do the administrative work in providing the service (deployment and managing clients, accounts, etc.)
  • HOW users will access the service through the necessary interfaces and tools (for both the creators and users)

But, what does this all mean to the user’s reality? That is, how does cloud computing work from the user’s perspective?

Generally, a user logs into a portal and orders services through the cloud OSS. The interface and tools created have this purchasing and account creation fully automated, so the steps will generally be fast and get you where you need to go without much thought.

You then receive some sort of credentials—depending on the service—to access the requested tools, software or platform. Once you’re using the service, you can access it from any computer. If you store files or other data on the platform, storing that data to your computer is usually an additional step—the default of cloud computing is to keep all related data on the cloud where you can access it from anywhere at any time by simply logging in.

Invoicing usually reflects a product tier or monitored level of consumption of the service, and the provider’s business system service automatically validates credit card or other information for billing.

At its base, cloud computing as a service is providing powerful building blocks, infrastructure, or full solutions development in order to perform tasks at a faster, further-reaching, and more complex rate.

Key Components to Cloud Computing

Service Provider

The most important part of cloud computing is access to a competent server or service provider. The service provider has computational power and database storage capacities far beyond that of any local network. Major tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM have invested heavily in creating their own networks for this purpose, and each control an enormous portion of the cloud market. Of course, this list of contenders isn’t surprising—their names are ubiquitous in today’s tech scene.

Systems and Software

In order for a cloud computing service to be efficient, latent processing power is an obvious must (also called cloud latency), but the service’s system and software need to be top notch as well—or else it ends up being a lot of power with no appealing way to use it.


Passing data, code, programs, or any other information over to a cloud server for storage or execution can be frightening, as some of this information may be private or too important to lose. Security, then, is a huge component to cloud computing. A good service provider will have the proper encryption protocols set in place to be able to store your data and execute your tasks without leaving any visible trails of information. As data is becoming more omnipresent, companies are quickly learning and adapting to the fact that all user data must be kept secure.


To be able to access the cloud, both the server and the client must be connected through the Web. It seems trivial, but especially with enormous quantities of data, a good internet connection (both in terms of internet strength as well as constant online connectivity) is absolutely crucial for both ends of the cloud service. An unreliable connection puts not only the efficiency of the system at risk, but also the security.

Cloud Computing Companies

Discover Innovative Computing Startups and Companies

IoT Technologies (Internet of Things, Big Data, Cloud Computing) Companies and Startups

It takes bold visionaries and risk-takers to build future technologies into realities. In the field of big data, there are countless companies and startups across the globe working on this technology. Our mega list of internet of things, internet of things, big data, and cloud computing companies, covers the top companies and startups who are innovating in this space.

Cloud Computing Applications

Email and Other Cloud Software

The ability to check your email, messages, and social media at any given time wherever you have an internet connection is all thanks to cloud computing. Normally in the form of SaaS delivery, these programs and cloud computing applications all constitute relatively minimal code when compared to the absolutely enormous amounts of data accessible. Being able to send messages as quickly as your fingers can type, whenever you want, is possible because the cloud server is always available and ready to execute the tasks that you send through it—and not just your tasks, but also those any of the billions of people that use these programs and applications.

Big Data Analysis

The biggest issue faced when dealing with Big Data is that there is just so much of it, and the amount continues to grows every day without rest. Traditional methods of software delivery simply aren’t capable of sorting and analyzing this much information, which is where cloud computing comes into play. Having the immense storage space and computational power of cloud servers is perhaps, the most important factor in Big Data mining and analysis. Without the cloud, it would be nearly impossible to handle the level of information generated by the growing IoT universe of smart things.

Server Backups

Whether you’re aware of it or not, a good chunk of the data you’ve created probably has some sort of backup in one form or another. Whether it be pictures, messages, or even search history, many of your daily applications and programs operate on cloud servers, and that information is stored somewhere beyond your local computer.

More than just a messages backup, cloud servers offer backups for huge and important databases. If the local server for an insurance company crashes, for example, it simply wouldn’t be an option for the company to lose all their customer data. That’s what makes cloud computing so crucially important for countless companies and entities, even if only as massive data backups.

Economic and Financial Testing

As economies get more complex, it gets tougher and tougher to create an accurate and feasible mathematical model to know or plan for what to expect in the future. To get around this, many economic schools of thought have turned to massive computational simulations, essentially programming a population with an economy and simulating what might happen with certain parameters. Of course, these simulations are enormous and require lots of computational power, so many are often run on powerful cloud servers to ensure the most realistic modeling possible.

Cloud Computing Tools

What are Cloud Computing Tools?

Cloud Computing comes in many forms and at varying levels of complexity, so you can imagine that there are also plenty of different things to keep in mind when managing your system. Luckily, there are a plethora of tools that can help you take care of specific needs and assist with management of these resources.


Cloudability is a program that helps manage cost analytics. By monitoring expenditures and checking profits and cost reductions, this tool can help ensure that your resources are running efficiently and sustainably.


S3 Life Cycle Tracker and related Cloudyn Suite

Created by Cloudyn, this tool offers cloud optimization, checking for inefficiencies in your storage or computing and alerting you, even suggesting solutions.


RightScale Cloud Management

RightScale was one of the earliest companies to touch the cloud management frontier and works to provide the best in cloud management services. This product helps manage the infrastructure of your resources across private, public, or hybrid networks.

Cloud Computing Conclusion

Now that you have an overview of what cloud computing is, how it works, what developers have to consider when leveraging it, and how it’s come to radically change the delivery of software and other services it’s perhaps hit you how many cloud-based services you already use. Acquiring a greater understanding of specific providers whose solutions can have a positive impact on your life, allowing you to leverage the innovative services and the new freedoms that cloud computing technology provides.

IoT Technology Guides

Different Types of IoT Technologies

Although the cloud computing is considered to be a foundational technology, other exciting technologies have been derived from it. Further explore these technologies by continuing with one of our other “Ultimate Guide to Understanding” web resources on Internet of Things or Cloud Computing.