What is cloud computing really?
Cloud computing is the next step in the ever-evolving life of the internet. It allows IT professionals to do more with less, effortlessly expand operations, migrate entire web sites more safely and easily, provides a faster, more secure solution for disaster recovery, and gives us an easy way to manage it all, while reducing IT costs! This would be unimaginable using standard servers of the past.
To understand the cloud a little better, lets first take a look back at a traditional data center. Each web site is housed on a server, which occupies space in a rack at the data center. That server contains everything a normal computer would: motherboard, memory, disk drives, operating system, server software, databases, and your web site. When your site grows beyond the resource limits of that physical server, your site bogs down and it's time to look at upgrade options.
With traditional servers upgrading is expensive, while moving your data to the new hardware can be tricky and time consuming. Don't forget about that old server that you stopped using. After your site goes live on the new server, the old one is just a useless metal box. You could plan for future growth by starting off with a more powerful server, but until you utilize all the resources, it's just a waste of money and electricity. The average web server uses less than 30% of it's full potential.
Now imagine a data center with thousands of servers just like this, using less than half of their capabilities. It's a massive waste of electricity, space, hardware, manpower, and above all a waste of money.
What if we could reduce the waste while providing lots of time saving convenience? This is the idea behind cloud computing!
Take a deep look into the cloud.
When you look at the nuts and bolts of it, a cloud is actually just a network of physical machines with very special software used to create a virtual server environment. Each virtual server can be very small or extremely large, depending on your needs. That virtual server is also scaleable, meaning you can start very small and easily expand the virtual server as your web site grows. With cloud computing, there is never any need to pay for more than you use!
Remember the traditional data center with thousands of physical servers, all wasting the majority of their computing potential? You can consolidate the same number of virtual servers into a cloud, with none of the waste. Each virtual machine is only allocated as many resources as it actually needs to run at optimal performance. Meanwhile, less physical space is used in the data center because the cloud runs on only a few super computers. Less power is required for these machines, compared to many small servers, which also means less cooling is needed. These factors add-up to reduced costs and less negative impact on the environment.
Disaster recovery and backups
What if the unthinkable happens? Your data becomes corrupted as a result of catastrophic hardware or software failure? Normally this scenario would mean a lot of down-time while your server is being repaired and your data is being restored from backups. In this business, any unscheduled down-time can be a killer.
The cloud's redundant systems are build on incredibly reliable hardware and network infrastructure. If any physical part of the cloud does fail, those nodes are automatically disabled and the necessary resources are allocated on a different physical node. In the event of a software error, for example if you install a script that deletes all your data, it is easy to restore from our backups. The cloud automatically takes a snapshot of your virtual server at periodic intervals. Even if your whole operating system becomes corrupted, we can simply restore from the last snapshot, like an undo button for your whole virtual server.
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