While computers were not unknown 30 years ago, over the last three decades they have become a daily staple in most lives. Most people would agree that computers have enriched their lives, and that access to the Internet has made it possible to retrieve valuable information and to contact many individuals, both in relatively short time.
In some instances, technological improvements have increased the complexity of many matters. A good example is found in software: accounting software written twenty years ago has surely grown in complexity. Though it can be quite expensive to continually upgrade software programs, and very frustrating when the software is rarely used, cloud computing is an alternative means by which users can gain access to the accounting software that they need.
Users who access ‘Software as a Service’ or SaaS are either charged a flat rate or a rate depending on the time they spent using the software. Because these users no longer have the responsibility of maintaining up-to-date software, and the headaches that sometimes comes with it, many of them report that utilizing software via cloud computing is both cost efficient and a stress reducer. Cloud computing also allows access to a wide variety of software programs; the user selects only those that he needs.
There are two other forms of cloud computing: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a service (PaaS). With IaaS, the user obtains access to other computers, which are used to run application software. It also gives the user the ability to store data on the off-site systems. While a start-up company will likely not need a large database for either its products or its customers, with time, both may increase to the level that a large database is required for them. In such instances, IaaS make storage space possible, and, as with SaaS, typically the user is billed based on the resources used.
PaaS, the most complex of the three, will generally provide the user with a server, a database, an operating system and a program, from which the user will develop its own software. As with the other formats of cloud computing, generally the cost to the user for PaaS is directly related to the degree of usage.
In explaining cloud computing, many find it helpful to mention the concept of renting; instead of buying additional servers, software programs, and hardware, cloud computing allows the user to rent such things when needed, relieving the person of the expense and headaches involved in maintenance.