The most popular example is Google Apps:
Wiggio.com is another cloud computing site for small groups to share calendars, to-do lists, documents, webconferences, ...
Web Conferencing (Webinars) for online meetings and seminars with application and document sharing are becoming more popular.
The term "Cloud Computing" came into popular use around 2007, although it had been used before.
For corporations it can mean outsourcing your whole computer center and IT department or just particular applications (Payroll, Customer relationship management [CRM] ).
Advantages include, no worry about fixes or software upgrades, hardware upgrades, provisioning and backups; Runs on multiple devices and available anytime anywhere.
The term "cloud" comes from Internet diagrams, typically shown as a cloud, but the concept is not new. In the past remote computing was referred to as time sharing, where links to the remote servers were provided by the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) or private lines.
Individuals have used the cloud for things like email, information services (weather, news, shareware downloads, ...) and e-commerce (Amazon, eBay) for some time.
More recently, concepts like Apple Computers iCloud used for keeping files on individuals multiple devices, computers, phones, tablets synchronized have become more popular. A change to you contact list or calendar on one device will automatically be updated on your other devices. It also allows you to access your information from a computer at work or the library which does not belong to you and to share information like your calendar with friends and family.
Gmail, Facebook, image hosting (Flickr, Picasa), twitter, Amazon, Ebay, Google Docs, and Google Apps could all be considered cloud computing.
The Gartner group uses Hype Cycles to predict the adoption of new technologies.
'60's Mainframes '70's Dumb terminals - Mainframes '80's Mini-computer '90's Client Server - Desktop PCs '00 PC servers on premises S/W - Laptop PCs, Smartphones '10 Cloud Computing - Netbooks, Tablets, UltrabooksOther early applications in the late 70's and early 80's used remote computers with dial-up interfaces for information sharing Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) and online services such as CompuServe, Prodigy, The Source, usenet and America Online. An Apple II computer with a hayes modem card was a common way to access these systems, but they typically used dumb terminal emulation software to just display the date from the remote system.
These were generally referred to as thin clients.
The client-server model referred to your access device terminal or computer with terminal emulation as the client and the host computer as the server.
These were thin clients, they didn't use any of their computing power other than to display the data from the server.
As desktop computers became cheaper and smarter more processing was moved to the desktop, fat or thick clients, saving processing power on the server.
MIT's X Window system (1984) provides a set of graphic primitives allowing a terminal to have multiple windows each connected to a different server. It kind of reversed the model with one terminal serving as a host to multiple remote applications.
A web browser where basic instructions for page layout and links to compressed graphics are sent from the web server to your browser (client) where the page is displayed and graphics de-compressed. Java script downloaded in a web page allows processing on your PC.
In the 90's people talked about going back to thin clients with something like X-windows and all your programs would be on remote servers where you would lease access to them rather purchase and install them.
Currently (2012) cloud computing can refer to private or community clouds generally used by business entities
or public clouds providing services like Gmail, Facebook, twitter, Amazon, Ebay, Google Docs, Google Apps.
Hybrid clouds combine private and public needs. e.g. Apple's iCloud, dropbox, Evernote which allow users to synchronize private data across multiple personal devices, but also share it.
Google contacts and calendar automatically synchronize between your google account in the cloud and an Android phone or tablet.
Cloud computing allows computer users to conveniently rent access to fully featured applications, to software development and deployment environments, and to computing infrastructure assets such as network-accessible data storage and processing.
IDC estimates the cloud market to be $70 billion by 2015, a 25% annual increase.
PaaS - Cloud Platform as a Service - Service provider supplies programming languages and tools for the consumer to create applications.
IaaS - Infrastructure as a Service - Service provider supplies data center infrastructure, storage and networking, plus the platform virtualization.
Another NIST view is
Source: NIST Special Publication 800-146, May 2011
[Com88] Douglas Comer, "Internetworking with TCP/IP Principles, Protocols, and Architectures," Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1988, ISBN 0-13-470154-2.
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