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Chapter 1: What you need to know about cloud computing – What is cloud computing?

On a clear day, I can see for miles

If cloud telephony has caught your attention you might be asking “What exactly is cloud telephony?” or “Why should I opt for cloud telephony?” and crucially, perhaps, “Why should I care?”

These are all good questions (to be addressed in later blogs), but first a more fundamental question must be answered – what is cloud computing? Because understanding the broad concept will help you absorb the essentials of cloud telephony and the benefits it can bring to you.

Is it just another word for the Internet?
No. Simply put, cloud computing involves an end user or organisation (a business or an enterprise of any size) accessing computing resources via the Internet – that much is true. However, the key point to focus on is that the resources you wish to access are located somewhere other than your PC, home or premises.

The idea of using resources in the cloud means that software applications, data storage and/or processing power can be used or consumed without having to make the investment in procurement, installation, configuration and ongoing management and maintenance.

Someone else does those things for you – in the cloud, accessible by the Internet.

“We have been doing that for some time,” I hear you say.
The ubiquitous email (hotmail, gmail, yahoomail, etc.) is probably a good example of cloud computing, because it demonstrates the essential proposition – why purchase, install and manage software on your own PC when you can run like-for-like programs over the Internet?

Never mind that hotmail is free as that’s not the point to focus on in terms of understanding the basic concept. The monetary side comes later.

Cited as the next computing revolution, many big industry names are lining up their cloud offerings. ‘A brief guide to cloud computing’ by Christopher Barnattis a great starting point for you learn why. Or you may also wish to view the following:

Three good, top-level overviews: http://gigaom.com/2011/04/12/google-infrastructure-czar-cloud-is-about-getting-it-done/?utm_source=feedburner&utm;_medium=feed&utm;_campaign=Feed%3A+OmMalik+%28GigaOM%3A+Tech%29

http://www.thepilot.com/news/2011/apr/06/computing-in-the-clouds-offers-conveniences/

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2372163,00.asp

A more in depth overview: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cloud-computing1.htm

With a definition of cloud computing under your belt, your next question might be, “Of what does the cloud consist? That’s where we enter the world of acronym soup –served up by the likes of: IaaS; PaaS; SaaS; or Anything-ah-ah-eS. Those will be the starting point for the next post.