Cloud computing is about liberating computing resources and making them readily available to business users. Computing resources may be delivered in the form of computing infrastructure, software or even a software development platform over the Internet and related technologies.
Many of us have already experienced this as consumers. Think about Gmail, Google Docs, Facebook or even Amazon. Each of these utilises a software application to transact whether it’s sending an email, authoring a presentation or buying a book.
Now, business applications are moving to the cloud. The reality is that over the last 10 years there has been a shift away from traditional software housed on a server within an organisation to software which is delivered as a service over the Internet. This is the basis for the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model which is part of the wider cloud computing industry.
Traditional software is complex and expensive to install and maintain. The choice of hardware and software and installing, configuring, updating and securing the software application all lend to the complexity and expense. This is true for all business sizes and the complexity multiplies as more applications are commissioned.
Cloud computing, more specifically, SaaS can greatly reduce this complexity and management effort. A SaaS vendor takes on the responsibility for developing, maintaining and delivering software over the Internet. The application is available as a utility service and can easily be scaled from a few users to thousands of users. You only pay for you need.
One of the clear advantages of cloud applications is that they can be up and running in days or weeks. All that is required is a browser and Internet connection. In addition, since cloud applications are housed on shared infrastructure everyone benefits immediately from infrastructure upgrades and new functionality releases.
It is a very compelling offering.