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What is Cloud Computing?

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing comes in three main formats.

The term cloud computing itself can be confusing, as it was coined after the establishment of one of its key components, software-as-a service (SaaS). Research group Gartner's definition is of a style of computing where massively scalable solutions are provided as a service using Internet technologies.

Cloud computing comes in three main formats:

Infrastructure-as-a-service provides basic access to server hardware, storage and bandwidth. This is akin to the common model of outsourced applications hosting.

The next level is platform-as-a-service, which may also provide the basic operating software, as well as some add-on services such as database access, user interface, message queues, application servers and possibly a payment service.

This model is designed for companies that wish to host their own software and make it available to users, sometimes on a commercial basis. There are entire software businesses that are now run in this way, without ever selling packaged software.

The third model is software-as-a-service (SaaS), and provides customers with access to complete software applications, which are often integrated with others to provide greater functionality for the customer.

A final layer is one that actually offers workers as part of its service, such as Amazon's Mechanical Turk, which gives businesses access to an on-demand, scalable workforce, or TopCoder, which offers a service for writing computer code as a cloud service, backed by 200,000 independent software coders who bid for work. -- B Howarth

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