16:49 PM

Finding the Silver Lining in Cloud Computing

If you use an online service to send email, watch movies or your favorite TV show, listen to music, play online games, or store pictures and videos from your smartphone, then you are using cloud computing technology. Cloud computing provides an easy way for us to consume digital content and can be used as a platform for making those services available to others. With cloud computing, you can host websites and blogs, stream audio and video, create new apps and services, and store your data. From a user's perspective, all of these activities are provided "as a service" which is where the three categories of cloud computing get their names.

The cloud is nothing more than a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet. These servers can be configured to store, manage, and process data, rather than using a local server or a personal computer. The ability to virtualize and centrally manage these data center resources is what makes cloud computing so flexible. Also, customers can order these services and customize them to their needs and only pay for what they use. It is similar to how you are charged for water or electricity. The more services you use or the more intense your services are, the more you pay. The three categories of cloud computing are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).

The most fundamental category of cloud computing services is IaaS. With IaaS, you rent infrastructure including servers and virtual machines, storage, networks, as well as the computer operating systems from a cloud provider. Many security analysts rent IaaS services to crack passwords by provisioning computing cloud resources to parallelize brute-force password attacks. A more tame use of IaaS would be hosting your blog or website that will stay responsive and always on no matter how many visitors connect to your site.

PaaS provides cloud computing services that supply an elastic environment for developing, testing, delivering and managing software applications. PaaS is used by software developers to rapidly deploy websites or mobile apps without worrying much about the underlying infrastructure of servers, storage, and networks needed for their development project to be realized. PaaS focuses on tools to deliver a product instead of the complexities of technology that can get in the way of the user’s creativity. This increases developer productivity and usage rates while also decreasing the time it takes to build an application and get it to their target market.

If you use a smartphone or tablet, you have been on the receiving end of SaaS technology. Software as a Service is a method for delivering software applications over the Internet. It can be provided on-demand and paid for on a subscription basis. With SaaS, cloud providers host and manage the software application, the underlying infrastructure, and handle any maintenance for their product, like software upgrades and security patching. Users connect to the software over the Internet, and their device interacts with the SaaS cloud. When you are collaborating on Google Docs to edit and update a spreadsheet or if you are using Dropbox or Google Drive to store and retrieve files, then you are interacting with a SaaS service. The goal of SaaS is to remove applications from traditional on-device hardware and instead, serve these apps across the cloud.

If you are interested in learning more about cloud computing and how it can benefit your business or if you would like information on pursuing a degree in the Computer and Advanced Technologies Program, contact Meliton Hinojosa at 956-872-6128, via email at meliton@southtexascollege.edu or visit us on the web at http://bt.southtexascollege.edu/cat.