For computer networks, you need computers for your employees, hardware and software, and licenses for software. Servers, printers, and other networking equipment are also part of an IT infrastructure. This type of infrastructure can be time-consuming, hard-to-manage, and expensive. Cloud computing allows you to load one application; employees then log into a Web-based service that hosts all the applications needed to perform the jobs. Remote services owned by a vendor can run everything from e-mail to spreadsheet programs. Cloud computing takes the load off the user’s computer; all the user needs on the computer is a Web browser and interface software.
Cloud computing is a new approach to IT infrastructure; it provides a remote service that computer users can access over the Internet. The name cloud computing was inspired by the cloud symbol that is often used to represent the Internet. Cloud computing offers more efficiency, flexibility, and cost savings. Cloud computing can be an extension of a business’s existing IT infrastructure; it offers redundancy, high availability, and disaster recovery at a lower cost than having all of the hardware on the premises.
Many people have already used some form of cloud computing; an e-mail account with Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, or Gmail is a form of cloud computing. People using those types of e-mail accounts are not running the e-mail program on their computers – the client is on the service provider’s computer cloud. Dell virtualization is a key to boosting utilization of servers; virtualization is an energy-efficient component of infrastructure. Multiple applications can be run on the same system by taking advantage of virtualization. Technology such as VMware can aggregate resources from multiple servers into one. VMware allows you to create separate virtual servers on one. Resources such as random access memory and hard drive space can be allocated to the virtual servers; the resources are taken from the physical server.
Cloud services can be sold on demand by the minute or hour at any given time; the service is managed by the provider. Infrastructure-as-a-service is provided as a cloud computing service and allows a business to pay for the capacity it needs; this is one of the factors that make cloud computing very flexible. Platform-as-a service in the cloud uses a provider’s software and product development tools. Website portals and GoogleApps are examples of platform-as-a-service. In the software-as-a-service cloud platform, the vendor provides the hardware and software and interacts with the users through something known as a front-end portal.
Here is a scenario of a situation in which an agency would benefit from cloud computing:
A home health agency with two people in an IT Department has a corporate office and 16 branch offices. The IT Department is based at the corporate office. Employees in the branch offices access four different servers at the corporate office; one is for email, and one is for a home health patient database and software program. Another one of the servers is a file server, and the fourth one is used for DNS, DHCP, and the domain controller. This agency also has a disaster recovery site where data is transferred in the event of disaster at the corporate site. The two employees of the IT Department are responsible for approximately seventy computers, five servers, and much more network equipment spread across seventeen offices. Backups for all these systems and disaster recovery processes are time-consuming. The two members of IT do not have as much time to help users with issues as they would like to; a lot of their time and effort goes into backups and managing the servers. The company as a whole, the computer users, and IT would certainly benefit from cloud computing.
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