Your high school computer teach may have snapped at you for “having your head in the clouds,” but back then he or she had no idea what was in store for future of computing. If you haven’t heard about cloud computing by this point, now is the time to stop hiding under a rock and catch the latest buzz on one of the hottest trends to hit the information technology sector since client/server.
Cloud computing, to put it simply, is Internet-based computing allowing the details of such computing to be abstracted (think “hidden away”) from users having no need (or desire) to know about them. The very use of the “cloud” metaphor implies that, when diagramming a computing solution, any items placed within a fluffy cloud in the diagramming model can safely be abstracted away without giving thought to their internal operations.
Resources of all sorts, be it hardware and/or software, can be accessed from “within the cloud” anywhere a user has Internet access. Some users take advantage of cloud computing simply to access services such as email (think Google’s GMail) where other more advanced users may create an entire server-room replacement in the cloud. One of the greatest advantages of cloud-based computing is that resources may be scaled up or down almost immediately to accommodate present needs. It can also be more cost-effective as users need not purchase any hardware components, pay for utility bills, nor perform any maintenance or operation costs.
Aside from obvious heavy-hitters like Amazon and Google, there are several other companies in the game worth mentioning:
AT&T – One of the champions of the telecommunication industry, AT&T has geared up to provide what is calls “Synaptic Compute as a Service,” a service delivering pay-as-you-go cloud computing and access to virtual servers. With this service, users provide and manage applications and databases while AT&T provides and manages the virtualization infrastructure (network, servers, and storage). Synaptic Compute as a Service is offered with no upfront fees, no termination fees, and no commitment.
Appistry – Appistry’s CloudIQ platform, according to their own website, “applies cloud architectures to large-scale data storage and processing challenges”. Their CloudIQ platofrm enables what they call “computational storage,” a technology that unifies applications and data that are traditionally separate entities. They claim this technology “allows enterprises to quickly turn raw data into actionable intelligence faster, better, and cheaper than ever before.”
Appscale – Of course there are open source clouding computing solutions out there, and AppScale is one of them. AppScale is an open-source platform for Google App Engine applications allowing users to deploy and monitor their apps without the burdens and drawbacks of a closed-source solution. They have already gained a lot of interest and, being open-source, are sure to gain more in the near future.
Rackspace – As one of the heroes of the web hosting industry, Rackspace has already developed a name for itself. It only makes sense for them to extend their business direction into the cloud computing arena. Their three key cloud-based solutions, cloudservers, cloudfiles, and cloudsites have already been successfully serving over 40,000 customers to date.
salesforce – Claiming to be “The leader in customer relationship management (CRM) & cloud computing,” salesforce provides cloud computing services via their Sales Cloud 2, Service Cloud 2, Chatter, and Force.com services.