The rise of cloud computing

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Question: What is Cloud Computing? Answer: It’s the methodology of processing something over many machines spread across a network.

Boyan Tsolov


Cloud Computing is the methodology of processing something over many machines spread across a network. The idea is that you ‘outsource’ the processing that your computer would normally do itself to another computer(s) on a network.

You do not necessarily know where this computer resides in the world or how many computers are being used. That is why it is called a ‘cloud.’

In short, the processing is outsourced to a third party and the result is returned to you.

Out of this “service” comes three ways to provide cloud computing:

SaaS: Software as a service

1 In this type of computing, the software is offered online

through a browser. It is hosted on the provider’s servers. The users do not need to install the software on their machines. The provider manages the servers that host the software, they update the software at their convenience and they fix bugs on it directly.

PaaS: Platform as a service:

2 In this type of computing, the provider has exposed a means for writing applications on their servers. This is possible because the third party company has provided their own APIs (Application Programming Interface) for you to program with. When the developer programs their components, these components then run on the servers, in the cloud. The developers don’t need to worry about hosting them on a website; the provider takes care of that.

IaaS: Infrastructure as a service

3 In this case, companies provide a means for their users to use an entire computer ‘in the cloud’ as if it is in your office. This means that you do not need to buy new machines and set them up with a network in your office. You can ‘create’ a new machine through the provider and then log into it using common software like remote desktop. If you feel that you need more machines to run your website, you can add more at the click of a button.


– Maintenance: The provider maintains the computers, meaning the users need not know anything about computers–they just need a connection to the internet.

– Security: The providers are responsible for this, instead of the users if the software/website was on their own machines.

– Reliability: When something is in the cloud, it is usually very reliable in terms of up-time.

– Scalability: You can grow the computing power at an instant.

– Location: As you add more computing power, it can appear anywhere in the world. However, ideally you would like the location to be as close to you as possible.

– Cost: Since you are paying per machine or per resource (e. g. per CPU, per GB used, per software feature) it is cheaper to afford as much computing power as you need. Small businesses can use this to get started because they might not have money to buy big servers to place in their office from the get-go.


– Data privacy: The provider has all of your data on their servers.

A hacker can get to it.

The company might go bankrupt.

Negligence on their part can lose your data.

You have less control of the software and the data.

– Security: Just as it is a pro because you don’t have to worry about it, if the provider is not careful they might expose a lot of your data.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Comments are closed.