Cloud computing is a radically new concept of storing, managing, and processing data and accessing hardware using a network of remote servers. It is a marked departure from the traditional practice of computing using local servers and/or personal computers and leverages the inherent advantages of the internet pool resources for cost effective alternatives.
The biggest advantage of cloud computing is the potential access to a wide range of superior products and resources at much lower costs. In the stand-alone model of computing, users have to purchase and install required applications, with constraints of memory space, system configuration, and cost. With cloud computing, the user has access to virtually unlimited infrastructure, applications, and/or storage space. The pay-as-you-use model allows users to save on upfront costs and in many cases make cloud computing a cheaper alternative compared to the traditional stand-alone model.
Another significant advantage of cloud computing is its “lean” and “environment friendly” nature The traditional desktop PC or server runs at full capacity regardless of the quantum of resources actually required by the user at the time. This leads to wastage of resources, especially higher energy consumption. Cloud computing allows the user to accesses only such resources as required. It allows start-up configuration with the minimum resources required, and purchasing additional services on a ‘need-to’ basis. In the age of increasing concerns about environment, this contributes to reduced carbon emissions, and promotes the concept of “green computing” in a big way.
A major concern of cloud computing is security, especially since it requires transmitting sensitive data across public internet, and storing them in unknown third party servers and locations. This remains a major drawback of cloud computing. But for not-critical or non-sensitive data, it provides the advantage of inbuilt back up and not having to worry about system crashes leading to data or application loss.