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Cloud Computing: A Comparison of Computing Models

Pros and cons

A simple definition of cloud computing is that it's a unique storage service that involves storage of data and software. With cloud computing, the person or company who enjoys the service is not fully aware of the location, storage facilities or configuration of the system used to offer the storage services. A good analogy to explain this concept is the regular power grid that supplies power to homes and businesses. The end user who enjoys the services is hardly aware of all the power generation and distribution devices and components used to deliver the service.

Since its introduction, cloud computing has evolved through several stages like virtualization computing to autonomic utility form of cloud computing. It has also evolved from service-oriented architecture.

There are some concepts that are quite similar to cloud computing. These cloud computing comparisons may share some identical features with cloud computing, but they are quite distinct and should not be classified as being the same. Some cloud computing comparisons include the following:

  1. Mainframe Computer: Mainframe computers are large, powerful computers that are usually used in big organizational settings. The application of mainframe computers include the processing of voluminous data as required for resource planning, census statistics, industry and consumer statistics and large financial transactions.
  2. Grid Computer: This concept describes a type of parallel computing system distributed and shared with a cluster of interconnected computer systems. The networked computers work together to perform tasks that are too large for only one computer to perform. This computer network is then hooked up to one main super computer.
  3. Utility Computing: This concept involves arranging computer resources that have to do with storage and computation. One example is the use of metered service for public utility.
  4. Client/Server Model: This concept describes a unique server computing arrangement that includes any distributed application that has the ability to differentiate requests from the server (service providers) and requests from clients (service requests).
  5. Peer-to-Peer: This arrangement does not involve central coordination as is required in other concepts like the client/server model. With a peer-to-peer arrangement, each participating system serves as a resource consumer and supplier.
  6. Autonomic Computing: This concept is used to describe a computer system that is able manage itself.
  7. Service-Oriented Computing: This concept involves computing methods that are mainly based on software service. The main difference with cloud computing is that cloud is mainly based on services related to computing.

A major feature of cloud computing is that it is dynamic. Both the date and processing cannot be located in any one particular static place. This is quite different from other models where you can identify or pinpoint the servers or systems where the processing is done. This particular feature is what gives the concept the tag "cloud" computing, because it seems as if the processing and data takes place within the cloud. All the other known models can thus be said to supplement the concept of cloud computing.

Could computing service delivery involves use of some software systems and structures. For example, there are several cloud components that interface and interact over some application programming. This works via a system of web services structured on a three-tier structure. The application principle works like the UNIX program, which involves several programs working together at the same time along universal interfaces.

Cloud computing components can also be broken down into back end and front end. The back end comprises the part of the system that the end user may not see. This includes the computers, servers and data storage systems devices that make up the "cloud." The front end comprises of the computer and applications that the user can see and access.

More Stories By Anne Lee

Anne Lee is a freelance technology journalist, a wife and a mother of two.