What is Cloud Computing?

What is Cloud Computing?What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is now a part of our everyday lives, but there are still people who aren’t sure what it means. That’s fine. Technology moves fast (just like hummingbirds) and COLIBRI is here to clear up any confusion you might have. Besides, while she researched this article, she found there was more to the cloud than she knew, and it was pretty interesting, too!

What is Cloud Computing? A Basic Definition

One popular way to explain the cloud is to compare it to a public utility. In that definition, accessing software becomes like paying for electricity. Most of you don’t have a generator at home. You pay for a centralized service, like PG&E, to provide electricity to your home.

All you do is pay for your monthly service and maintain the wires, outlets and light switches you use to access the electricity.

With the cloud, you pay for an internet service and your own computer.

Just like electric companies have grids, cloud computing relies on servers (big fat computers located in office buildings throughout the world) that can store data and are connected to you and other users via the internet.

Examples of What is Cloud Computing

Even if you think you don’t know what the cloud is, you are probably using it. Here are some examples of cloud computing:

  • Gmail
  • SalesForce
  • DropBox
  • Amazon Web Service (AWS)
  • ServiceNow

Some of these you have heard of, and some of them you might be directly or indirectly using without knowing it.

Types of Cloud Computing

There are three main types of cloud computing you need to know about. They are:

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Gmail, SalesForce and DropBox are all examples of SaaS. These are fully developed services that you access by going onto the internet. You don’t need to own them or maintain them.

A bonus is, of course, that you can use them anywhere you have internet access, freeing you to work or play on the go.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS is typically a means of storing data and accessing servers from all over the world on a pay-as-you-go basis. This is very convenient because, of course, for most of us, owning and maintaining a huge mainframe computer would be completely impractical.

An example of an IaaS is Amazon Web Service (AWS). In addition to selling books, Amazon has created many innovative technologies. Amazon sells its skills, technologies and hardware to organizations that want cloud computing. (COLIBRI won’t get into it here, but Amazon, like Google, is a truly amazing technology-based company with much more to it than meets the eye.)

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

According to Campus Technology, “PaaS is a term used to describe a software-development platform that is stored in the cloud and can be accessed via a web browser. It makes a variety of programming languages, operating systems, and tools available to developers, saving them the cost of purchasing and installing everything themselves.”

This type of cloud computing is the least likely to be accessed by the average person, but it still has a big effect on our lives because developers use it to create the applications (apps) we use everyday on our smartphones and computers.

An example of PaaS is ServiceNow, a business to business (B2B) provider that helps other companies create their own applications using server-based, internet (cloud) technology.


One of the more interesting tidbits COLIBRI came across as she researched this article was the fact that at least the idea of cloud computing has been around since the 1950s when, according to Wikipedia, “scientist Herb Grosch (the author of Grosch’s law) postulated that the entire world would operate on dumb terminals powered by about 15 large data centers.”

We aren’t quite there yet, but COLIBRI wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the direction we’re headed. Think HAL.


The main issue people have with the cloud is whether it is secure or vulnerable to hacks. In COLIBRI’s humble opinion, the cloud, like everything on the internet, is vulnerable to hacks.

Think of it as the modern equivalent of highway bandits and back up your data and change your passwords regularly.

Alright, folks. That’s it for cloud computing unless you have something to add!


Best Priced Computers. BPC, articles and glossary.

Ramaswami, Rama and Schaffhauser, Dian. What is the Cloud? Campus Technology. October 31, 2012. http://campustechnology.com/articles/2011/10/31/what-is-the-cloud.aspx

Small Business Editor. Are You Underusing The Cloud? Why Small Businesses Need to Get With The Times. September 13, 2012. http://smallbiztrends.com/2012/09/underusing-the-cloud-why-small-businesses-need-to-get-with-the-times.html

Wikipedia, Cloud computing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing


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