What is Cloud Computing?

Simple Definition of Cloud Computing

One of the hottest and probably the most irritating pieces of jargon to emerge in the IT industry is ‘the cloud.’ Everyone is talking about cloud computing, cloud storage and cloud products. But what really is cloud computing? Well, what isn’t cloud computing? If you are using Gmail or Google Docs, then you are already consuming the power of the cloud-based services.

Now, there are several definitions of “cloud computing” flying around the web, and it can be confusing for some of you to figure out what it really means — that’s okay, it’s generally not easy to digest everything you read about clouds the very first time.

Defining Cloud Computing in Plain English

Answer: Installing application on a server that can be accessed by anyone from anywhere is cloud computing. It’s that simple!

Looking for standard definitions? Check out this collection of web definitions on cloud computing!

Let us consider Gmail. Google has installed the Gmail application on its Google’s data center so that anyone can access this application from their browser. Yes, that’s cloud computing right there.

Remember, Gmail is a cloud-based service that is completely free to use.

Cloud computing can go much further. Certain cloud-based companies put up applications on the server, so that anyone — from individual to businesses — can access the application by paying a small fee regularly. Users have to pay for how much they use, and that’s the reason cloud computing is called as a “pay-as-you-go” model.

Take for example, Apple’s iCloud which is free to use up to 5GB, and if you want more space, you have to pay a yearly fee.

Enterprises Adopting Cloud Services

Enterprises are using cloud services to save time, resources and money. For example, consider an IT firm requiring constant access to Microsoft Office Suite. The firm can buy a copy of Office for each computer and install them. This can be a very expensive and tedious affair because a) the firm has to buy a genuine copy of Office for every machine b) the firm has to invest time in installing Office on every machine.

Microsoft can install Microsoft Office on its cloud server and charge firms on a monthly basis, say $10 a month. Firms can remotely login from their web-enabled browser without having to buy or install the product.

Even individual users can use cloud-based services to store files as a backup. Companies like Dropbox, Google Drive, Skydrive offers free cloud storage that lets you upload files, folders, videos for free. If you want more space on the cloud server, be prepared to pay.

Check out Berkeley’s view on cloud computing (PDF file)!


  • PDF file courtesy – UC Berkeley
  • Video courtesy – RPath