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cloud computing tutorialYou’ve probably heard the term “cloud computing” before. It’s a common buzz word especially for people who are looking for a better performing provider for a website. However, cloud computing is more than just a CDN or a virtualized server. Cloud computing lets you store data, run software or even add resources to an internal network all from the cloud.

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Cloud Storage

One of the most basic and useful parts of cloud computing is storage. Cloud storage can be for the individual or for a business. Cloud storage is basically an extra hard drive for your computer except the hard drive is hosted by the cloud hosting company. Two common cloud storage companies are Google and Microsoft. Both of these companies offer several gigabytes for free, and the storage is integrated into the companies’ products. For a small fee, you can by several more gigabytes. If you want this storage for personal use, you could probably copy all of your files to the cloud with enough storage space.

For instance, Google Drive is a handy cloud storage addition for individuals. All you need is a Google account and you can have several gigabytes of data storage. The Google Drive app also works on your mobile device. Drag and drop files to the device and you back up your files. Google Drive also offers sharing with other Google account users, and you can share files with people who just have the link.

Businesses usually must pay for cloud storage options. However, businesses can take the most advantage of cloud storage. The storage space acts like a central place where you can store your files and allow users to connect. Cloud storage includes permission options, so you can add and remove access as you need it.


Software as a service (SaaS) lets you store and run software from a cloud server. SaaS is probably one of the most popular services offered by the cloud. You can run all of your software from the cloud, so your business doesn’t need to have the massive amounts of resources to run software for several hundred users.

One common SaaS application is Salesforce. Salesforce is a full CRM (customer relationship management) tool on the web. Salesforce started before the term cloud computing and SaaS became popular. This SaaS tool lets you manage all of your customers, potential customers and sales in the cloud. It’s the perfect example of a true, full SaaS application.

Learn how to work with the fundamentals of cloud computing

With mobile devices becoming more popular, SaaS is becoming more popular with businesses. Most mobile apps have some kind of SaaS component to work with your internal network and database. The great thing about SaaS is that your applications are available at any time, and the cloud host has precautions to protect your data. The cloud host also has the backup servers and data centers to make sure that your SaaS application is always available and there is little to no downtime.


Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) gives more resources to your existing network. IaaS is basically an extension of your current network infrastructure. You can add IP addresses, disk storage, load balancers, virtualization (virtual networks) and firewalls.

All of these resources cost thousands of dollars for a business, but using IaaS, you can add only the resources you need and pay for the resources you use. The result is that you can scale these resources up and down as your requirements oscillate.  The cost savings is tremendous, especially if the business is first starting out and needs a lot of resources but doesn’t have the budget for a full network.

Learn how to work with cloud computing and Amazon Web Services


Platform as a service (PaaS) is distinct from IaaS only by its software. IaaS is more for hardware requirements, but PaaS offers operating systems, database systems or any type of software needed by the business. For instance, buying a database server is expensive. The licenses for Microsoft SQL Server can cost thousands of dollars. However, with PaaS, the business can host a database server without buying the full software installation and the hardware needed to offer a database.


Content delivery networks (CDNs) are beneficial when you need to host large files such as video or images. A CDN delivers the content from a data center closest to the end user. Since your files are hosted in a data center and these data centers are located all over the world, your large files stream to your users much more quickly. A CDN is beneficial for content sites with several videos stored or large images such as photography websites.

CDNs are also useful for speeding up your website. While they are mainly for images and video, CDNs can greatly enhance your website performance. If you think your website will grow in popularity, a CDN is helpful for your site. It’s also helpful if your target audience is global. With data centers located all over the world, CDNs are useful for websites with a global audience outside of your provider’s country.

The cloud offers several other features to businesses or individuals. With mobile devices being the dominant force in web trends, cloud computing is becoming more important for businesses. Even if you don’t think you use cloud computing, you probably use it at least partially either at work or at your home.

Get to know Google AppEngine for creating cloud computing apps

Most businesses can take advantage of at least one of these options, and there are several cloud computing hosts available. You can check out which cloud computing host provider is right for you.

Page Last Updated: March 2014

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