Let´s start with the very basic. The cloud refers to the internet and is a buzzword used to distinguish it from your computer´s hard drive. So, if you have files stored in the cloud, you can access them from any computer with an Internet connection. Your files are stored on a server owned by those who provide you with the cloud service and you can access those files from anywhere. If you have files that can be accessed from different computers connected by a local server, that is not considered cloud computing.
For personal uses, cloud computing can be pretty useful. In some cases, it eliminates the use of a flash drive if there is confidence that an internet connection will be easily found. Cloud computing is not really a new concept. Very well-known examples of companies offering cloud services are Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, and SugarSync. Google offers a pure cloud computing service and Microsoft has an online version of their Office apps. Both of these can be accessed through an Internet browser and without the need of any installation.
When it comes to cloud services to companies, the idea is very different. Cloud computing here can be thought of as a company renting a storage space outside their premises to store files and cabinets. All of this is on the Internet. So, when you talk about cloud computing services for businesses, there are three basic types:
- Software-as-a-service is the one type where a business buys the service from a vendor or service provider and can be accessed through the Internet.
- Infrastructure-as-a-service. Think of Amazon Web Service, Microsoft, or Google where they supply the server to the company to serve as a backbone. The business then has an allocated space or virtual machine which they can access and modify depending on needs.
- Platform-as-a-service is the one where a company can create its own platform to meet their particular needs.