Demystifying cloud computing
Cloud computing. It sounds ethereal and a bit mystical, but what is it, exactly?
If you've heard this term batted around recently, but haven't yet wrapped your mind around it, here's a quick overview that we hope will clear up the, well, the cloud around it.
The traditional model for web site hosting requires that your web site and server-side applications be hosted on a physical server that sits at a physical location – either rented or at your offices. If your web site goes down or experiences slow-downs or outages, you or your service provider are responsible for tending to your server and getting things up and running as quickly as possible.
In this scenario, you are still responsible for making sure that you are aware of and able to report performance issues as they arise. You are also responsible for initiating and paying for the latest versions of any server-side applications you use such as Windows Server, Linux/UNIX, etc.
In a cloud infrastructure (also know as cloud computing), you don't actually own a physical server. Rather, you purchase an allocation of resources from a huge conglomeration of servers that are spread out all over the country and even around the world. This resource allocation is referred to as an "instance." If you require an instance that provides 3 gigabytes of storage, for example, then you would pay not for a server or part of a server that provides that, but rather for the resource itself. And because that service isn't tied directly to a single machine, but is shared by a powerful system of machines from a variety of geographical locations, you enjoy the benefits of universal physical redundancy, optimum performance, and inherent disaster recovery.
Additionally, your cloud provider is responsible for keeping your server-side applications up to date. That means you no longer have to keep track of or pay for the latest upgrades to your operating systems – as they are often included in the price of your instance.
To learn more about cloud computing (which we hope is not such a mystery anymore), read this article at Cnet News.
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