During the formative years of cloud computing technology, it mainly focused on the IT enablement of organizations. But, cloud computing is now playing a critical role in the rise of IT based economies, and offering unprecedented scalability. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) claims that the ease of scalability, customization and access to data anywhere and anytime has resulted in huge cost savings for many businesses. Additionally, the availability of resource pooling to enable software application development has contributed to its increased popularity.
Users and organizations benefit from economies of scale realized by the service providers, who operate huge data centers, which are highly efficient and have robust architectures. They use multi-tenancy to maximize resources sharing and provide their customers with computational power as per their requirements. This kind of IT provisioning has enabled the service providers to pass on their savings to their customers. This also leads to optimal use of computational resources fostering the idea of "Green Computing".
A hosted desktop (a type of cloud computing) is very similar to traditional PC except for the fact that the data is actually stored in datacenter severs, located in remote, secure location(s) accessed using an Internet connection. This concept of hosted desktops or virtual machines has eliminated the need for desktops in offices, thereby freeing up office real estate. Increasingly, people are using thin clients, which are low cost PCs with minimal resources and high-speed Internet to connect to the Internet and log on to the virtual machine to access data and applications from the cloud.
E-mail servers have been revolutionized with the advent of cloud computing. Businesses now have access to their email exchange servers without spending capital on infrastructure for maintaining and operating servers. It has also enabled redundancy to the email data for backup and allows for high-speed access. VOIP (Voice over IP) has made communication extremely easy across continents using the Internet. These VOIP servers are hosted in the cloud and they provide seamless communication channels with configured devices connected to a network either at work or home. It has eliminated the need for cable installations, traditional phone systems, decreasing the cost of the subscription. Cloud service providers also have a host of specialists and experts, who help customers with troubleshooting and setup of their systems, and are available round the clock for quick, reliable support. This also reduces the need in organizations for maintaining a host of people to maintain local servers and troubleshoot issues.
Another important change that came with the cloud computing revolution is the ease of data storage. Most cloud service providers allow users to store some amount of data in the cloud (commonly referred as cloud backup, online backup or cloud storage) with upgrades available for a cost. The fee structure and the amount of storage provided vary between providers. The ability to access data 24x7 using the Internet, the speed of access, and the elimination of local hardware for data storage has made cloud computing extremely attractive to companies as means of costs savings.
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