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Defined: What Is The Cloud?

Image Credit: mnsc @fickr

The internet is always changing, it is always adapting, and it is always has something new to offer. The concept of the cloud is not a new one, but the internet is now in a place to make all our of cloud computing dreams possible.

Let’s take a look at what exactly this cloud thing is.

Cloud computing refers to internet based computing that utilizes distant servers for data storage and management, providing software and information to computers and other devices.  Certain web services including Flickr, Google Docs, Jing and others might be utilized for the performance of functions that were traditionally carried out through software installed on individual devices.

The term “cloud” basically refers to a number of abstracted internet services offered by a provider. Ever since the inception of cloud computing, the ways people used have been altered to a great extent. The structuring and running of sites like Facebook and Twitter as well services like Google docs and Gmail are all the gifts of “Cloud”.

The Basic Concept

The basic concept of cloud lies in the fact that it utilizes resources from the computer as a collective virtual computer where the applications are floating in a cloud of resources rendering the hardware less important for the functioning of applications.

Three Main Types

There are three major categories of cloud computing services:

  • Infrastructure-as-a-service
  • Platform-as-a-service
  • Software-as-a-service

Infrastructure-as-a-service provides virtual servers and storage as per the user’s requirement.

Platform-as-a-service comprises the set of software and product development tools that are delivered by a service provider to control the server resource.

Software-as-a-service is the deployment of software over internet that requires no local server installation and can be availed through pay per use or subscription based payment methods.

Only What’s Needed

Cloud computing enables the user to utilize any degree of available resources depending upon one’s requirement while reducing the need of specific hardware for every job. Reduced cost, increased storage, automatic updates, mobility and computing flexibility are some of the benefits that are associated with cloud computing.

Impact to the Church

We have already seen Google roll out Google Apps, which provides cloud based documents, email, and file storage. This type of service lowers the costs for churches, providing on demand software. Rather than paying large licensing fees for something you may not use, you can scale your needs as you grow.

This also is affecting church websites. If we develop out sites using a hosting platform that is cloud based, we can add services based on need as the site grows, rather than having to move hosts or pay more larger upfront costs.

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