Cloud Computing Definition

If you've heard about "the cloud" and wonder whether it may be of value to your organization, you might start by asking, "what does cloud mean?" A cloud computing definition can introduce you to some of the key concepts and terms, and help you decide on next steps.

Cloud Computing Definition: The User Perspective

A short cloud computing definition is:

Cloud computing enables users to remotely access and use computer hardware and software through the Internet.

From a user's perspective, the defining aspects of the cloud computing experience are:

  • Rather than having to purchase, install, run, and maintain a software application locally, you use a browser to connect to and use an application that the cloud provider owns and maintains.
  • You pay for the service based on how much of the service you use and how long you use it for.

Cloud Computing Definition: The Provider Perspective

For the provider of cloud computing services, the cloud is defined by its leveraging of the latest and greatest data center technologies. Specifically, cloud computing requires extensive use of virtualization (server, storage, and network) and automation (particularly of provisioning, deprovisioning, scaling, and workload migration). Cloud computing is also defined by the support of secure multi-tenancy and by the implementing of web-oriented APIs (such as RESTful HTTP APIs) that facilitate customer self-service through web portals or customer-created client applications.

Cloud Computing Definition: Types of Cloud Services

Another useful part of a cloud computing definition is a categorization of types of cloud services. One way cloud services can be categorized is by who the service is intended for:

  • Public cloud services are open to anyone who is willing to pay for the services.
  • Community cloud services are built and operated specifically for a group of organizations that have very similar IT needs (such as local governments within a particular state; or a group of collaborating scientific organizations).
  • Private cloud services (also known as enterprise cloud services) are built and operated for the exclusive use of a single organization such as a corporation, government agency, or university.

Cloud services can also be categorized by the type of IT resource they offer:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)—Ready-made software applications for a wide variety of consumer or business needs.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS—Development platforms on which programmers can build and test new applications.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)—Raw computer processing and storage capacity.

Akamai: Connecting You to the Cloud

From basic cloud storage services to enterprise SaaS offerings and mobile cloud computing, all cloud services have in common that they are delivered to users over the Internet. Akamai helps organizations like yours get more value from cloud services by optimizing the Internet connection between your end users and the cloud provider's data center. Using our globe-spanning network of more than 216,000 content distribution servers, routing optimizations based on real-time intelligence about internet conditions, and inline content optimizations for content being viewed on mobile devices, Akamai ensures that our clients' end users have a reliable, secure, productive experience with the cloud, from anywhere in the world.

Learn more about how Akamai can provide you a better connection to the cloud.