Simply put, cloud computing is a model of outsourced Information Technology resources where, rather than building out a unique IT infrastructure, an organization instead accesses a shared infrastructure that is housed in a separate geographical location.
In other words, cloud computing leverages the Internet to enable the sharing and delivery of data, media, content, and applications. What is cloud computing today? Examples include:
- Music services that store users' music collections, enabling users to stream music on a variety of devices in any location with Internet connectivity
- Online backup services that archive the contents of users' computers via the Internet to provide secure restoration of content if a device is damaged or stolen
- Cloud-based applications, commonly known as "Software as a Service" (SaaS) used by businesses for a variety of functions ranging from database to accounting and human resources platforms.
- A large and growing set of virtualized services that include both B2B and consumer applications, infrastructure, and data solutions
Cloud computing offers several advantages that make cloud-based solutions compelling to both businesses and consumers, including:
- The potential economic benefit of 'renting,' rather than owning, storage and processing capacity. In other words, cloud services do not require an upfront investment.
- Outsourcing of maintenance and upgrading; an example would be comparing a cloud-based application to a traditional desktop application. In the cloud scenario, all updates/upgrades would be handled by the application vendor, eliminating the need for the customer to allocate resources and budget.
- Universal availability, allowing users to access cloud-based assets and applications from anywhere, any time, with an Internet connection.
So what are the challenges of cloud computing?
- Ensuring adequate performance. The inherent limitations of the Internet apply to cloud computing. These performance limitations can take the form of delays caused by demand and traffic spikes, slowdowns caused by malicious traffic/attacks, and last mile performance issues, among others.
- Ensuring adequate security. Many cloud-based applications involve confidential data and personal information. Therefore, one of the key barriers cloud providers have had to overcome is the perception that cloud-based services are less secure than desktop-based or datacenter- based services.
- Ensuring the costs of cloud computing remain competitive. As a leading provider of infrastructure for cloud computing, Akamai is uniquely positioned to help customers overcome the challenges of cloud computing and fully realize its many benefits. Our Intelligent PlatformTM consists of more than 100,000 servers all over the world, running securely and delivering a significant percentage of the world's cloud computing applications and services.
To learn about Akamai's solutions for cloud management, explore Alta - the cloud-based Application Delivery Platform.