What is cloud computing, and what are its key characteristics?

Cloud computing is a technology model that enables convenient, on-demand access to a shared pool of computing resources over the internet. These resources include computing power, storage, databases, networking, software, and other services. Cloud computing eliminates the need for organizations and individuals to own and maintain physical hardware and software infrastructure, as they can instead leverage resources provided by cloud service providers.

  1. On-Demand Self-Service:
    • Users can provision and manage computing resources as needed, without requiring human intervention from the service provider.
  2. Broad Network Access:
    • Cloud services are accessible over the internet from a variety of devices, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets, allowing for ubiquitous and convenient access.
  3. Resource Pooling:
    • Providers pool computing resources to serve multiple customers, enabling efficient use of resources. Users typically don't have control or knowledge over the exact location of the provided resources but may have some control over certain aspects like storage location.
  4. Rapid Elasticity:
    • Resources can be quickly and automatically scaled up or down based on demand. This allows for flexibility in handling varying workloads without manual intervention.
  5. Measured Service:
    • Cloud computing resources are metered, and users are billed based on their usage. This pay-as-you-go model provides cost efficiency and allows users to only pay for the resources they consume.
  6. Service Models:
    • Cloud computing offers services at different levels, including:
      • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Provides virtualized computing resources over the internet (e.g., virtual machines, storage).
      • Platform as a Service (PaaS): Offers a platform that allows users to develop, run, and manage applications without dealing with the underlying infrastructure.
      • Software as a Service (SaaS): Delivers software applications over the internet on a subscription basis.
  7. Deployment Models:
    • Cloud services can be deployed in different ways:
      • Public Cloud: Services are provided by third-party providers over the internet and are available to the general public.
      • Private Cloud: Cloud infrastructure is exclusively used by a single organization.
      • Hybrid Cloud: Combines elements of both public and private clouds, allowing data and applications to be shared between them.
  8. Security:
    • Cloud providers implement security measures to protect data, applications, and infrastructure. However, users also have a responsibility for securing their own data and applications.
  9. Elastic Load Balancing:
    • Cloud services often include load balancing mechanisms to distribute incoming network traffic across multiple servers. This ensures optimal resource utilization and prevents individual servers from being overwhelmed.