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What Is Cloud Computing? A Beginner's Approach

Danson Wachira is a certified Trainer in Computer Science, Information Technology and related studies.

If you search on the internet for “What is cloud computing?” you will certainly be bombarded with a lot of IT jargons that you might not even click the next available link to check what it says. This is because there are so many definitions and descriptions of "cloud computing" on the internet that you won’t be blamed for struggling to get it right. This Hub will explain in simple terms what is cloud computing.


To better understand cloud computing, imagine if you could have all the computing resources you need for your business applications at the same external place without worrying about the cost of purchasing machines, management of those machines, maintenance or even scalability implications due the physical infrastructure required to handle drastic demands in your business.

Now, imagine if you could get all these computing resources just by paying for them and better still pay for them only when you use them, and that is not all, imagine getting those resources at pick performance and efficiency. That is the power and capability of cloud computing.

Cloud computing is simply a set of pooled computing resources and services (“cloud”) delivered over the internet. Cloud computing usually provides these computing resources as “a service” over the Internet in the form of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Software as a Service (SaaS). This enable the clients to concentrate more on their core business and not worry about time and money investment on computing resources infrastructures.

For any business to compete effectively today, it needs computing resources that can scale rapidly to meet the dynamic demands and maximize its utilization of IT investment.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing

Cloud computing allow clients to access cloud based applications through a web browser, a light weight desktop or a mobile application while the business software and data are stored on servers at a remote location.

This not only enables such businesses to setup and run their applications much faster but also improves manageability and maintenance of such businesses to meet fluctuating and unpredictable business trends.

Let us now look at the three broad categories of cloud computing:-

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) (Sometimes called Hardware as a Service-HaaS) provides a pay-for-what-you-use model type of service to cloud users (utility computing).

Services that can be outsourced include virtual servers used for storage, firewalls, load balancers, networks, Hardware among other services. Clients can pay for the type of service needed or acquire more as required.

To run their applications, cloud users install operating system images on their machines as well as application software while the service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running and maintaining it.

Cloud providers bill Infrastructure-as-a-Service services on per-use basis where cost reflects the amount of resources allocated and consumed. An example of Infrastructure-as-a-Service provider is the Amazon Web Services.


Platform as a Service (PaaS)

In Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), cloud providers deliver a computing platform and/or solution including Operating System, programming languages environment, database and web server.

Application developers can develop and run their software solutions on a cloud platform without worrying about the cost and complexity of buying and managing hardware and software layers.

Developers create applications on the provider's platform over the Web. Platform-as-a-Service is an extended Infrastructure-as-a-Service where hosted software applications are made available to cloud users over the Internet.

The many advantages of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) includes frequent upgrading of Operating systems, projects collaboration by development teams who could be at different remote locations and expenses can also be minimized by consolidating programming development efforts.

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The downside of this model is lack of flexibility on providing these services to the cloud user whose requirements may scale rapidly than the services being offered by a particular cloud provider. An example of Platform-as-a-Service provider is the Google Apps.


Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a model in which applications are hosted by a vendor or a cloud provider and made available to cloud users by distributing them over the Internet. The cloud providers deploy application software in the cloud where cloud users can access them.

The cloud users do not manage the cloud infrastructure and platform on which the application is running e.g. servers and hardware. This eliminates the need to install and run the applications on the cloud user's computers thus simplifying maintenance and support. Other benefits of this model include easier administration, automatic updates and software compatibility since users will have the same version of software.


A cloud can be deployed in different structures for example, a Public cloud trade services to anyone on the Internet e.g. Amazon Web Services is as public cloud. A Private cloud is a proprietary data center that provides hosted services to a limited number of people.

Other cloud structures include Community cloud, Hybrid cloud and Virtual private cloud which is basically a private cloud designed with resources from a public cloud. Other major cloud service providers apart from Amazon Web Services and Google Apps include Apple’s ICloud, Windows SkyDrive and Dropbox.


Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on March 25, 2013:

Hi Zabbas,

One of the popular programming languages in cloud computing is Python and has been used in Google cloud and Ubuntu operating system. Probably you also need to get handy on Python. Read the following article to know what else is best. Thanks for the visit and comment.

Zabbas on March 25, 2013:

Hey dwachira , thank u so much for the insight. Can u let me know how to go about making a career in cloud computing primarily being a java developer.! ? my email :

Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on November 04, 2012:

Hi Miranda,

Am glad that this article was useful to you. Thanks for the visit and comment.

Christine Miranda from My office. on November 03, 2012:

Love that you wrote this in layman's terms and not techno mumbo jumbo. Thank you for taking the time write it. Voted up & more.

Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on September 26, 2012:

Hi Archa Ghodge,

Thanks you for the compliment, many people including my students really wanted to know what Cloud Computing is. I had to make it simple for all to understand. I really do appreciate the visit and comment.

Archa from India on September 25, 2012:

Thank you for explaining about the cloud computing in the simple and understandable words.

Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on September 24, 2012:

Thanks kashmir56 for stopping by, reading and commenting. If we can all understand these technologies in a simpler way, life would have been better and easy. Am glad you found this article to be useful. Enjoy you day!

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on September 24, 2012:

Great informative and well written hub, i understand better now what cloud computing is all about and you explained it so well that it was so easy to follow and understand .

Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on September 18, 2012:

Hi rajan,

Thank for finding time to stop here, reading and commenting. Cloud Computing is a vital force for any business today that want to venture into IT usage and tap the many benefits on utilizing IT in doing business. Am glad you found this article to be useful and i really appreciate your support here. Enjoy your day.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 17, 2012:

Very well explained dachira. Cloud computing had always been an enigma for me. Thanks for sharing this info.

Voted up and useful. Sharing on G+1.

Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on September 07, 2012:

Hello Peggy W, many firms are now shifting to Cloud computing, it is the way to gain more benefit from computing resources. Thanks for the visit and comment.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 06, 2012:

This is very interesting! Our computer guy suggested that we could store all kinds of our computer generated data on a cloud called Carbonite . com for about $60 a year. Am sure that there are many such services. This explanation of how they work for businesses was useful. Up votes and tweeted.

Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on July 16, 2012:

Thanks Harun for the visit, i might not remember you but am glad you found this article to be useful.

Harun on July 16, 2012:

You once taught me, and you have for another time made me understood it better..

its a great and useful resource

Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on July 03, 2012:

@ ChristyWrites, i find computing tools changing every day, it is better we keep on refreshing ourselves. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on July 03, 2012:

@hotelogix thanks for stopping by and reading, I'm glad you found it useful.

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on July 02, 2012:

A great introduction to cloud computing. I am just learning and this is a great reference tool, thanks!

Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on June 22, 2012:

Thanks hotelogix, am glad you found it useful. Thanks for reading.

hotelogix on June 22, 2012:

thanks for clarifying this bit..the writing style is simple and effective...hope to read more from U.

Erick on June 14, 2012:

This is nice information. I look forwad for more articles from you. Thanks.

Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on June 09, 2012:

Thanks unknownspy, am glad you found this hub useful.

DragonBallSuper on June 09, 2012:

Thanks for i can understand what is cloud computing. i've been seeing this quite a while in my work but don't really have the time to one by one research it. thanks for this!

Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on May 21, 2012:

Thanks Patkay, you are welcome and you do inspire me a lot in HubPages.

Patrick Kamau from Nairobi, Kenya on May 20, 2012:

Very well written hub, you have made me understand clearly what cloud computing is. Thanks for sharing.

Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on May 20, 2012:

Thanks Emmanuel, cloud computing has a high data security where cloud users data is distributed across different servers but it also has pros and cons. Soon am going to write a hub about that and surely i will let you know.

Emmanuel Kariuki from Nairobi, Kenya on May 20, 2012:

Hi dwachira,

this is the first time I am truly understanding Cloud computing and thanks for that. Now, how is the security of the data belonging to the 'Cloud Computing' Clients guranteed, and are there other risks that the clients should have in mind?

Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on May 20, 2012:

I agree Marcy, sometimes we miss on technology not because it not useful to us but because we don't know what it is all about.

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on May 19, 2012:

Nice work! We all need to learn about this resource and how to use it!

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