What is cloud computing? Expain its features.

Cloud computing is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet). The name comes from the use of a cloud-shaped symbol as an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it contains in system diagrams. Cloud computing entrusts remote services with a user's data, software and computation.

Cloud computing is a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. These services are broadly divided into three categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The name cloud computing was inspired by the cloud symbol that's often used to represent the Internet in flowcharts and diagrams.
A cloud service has three distinct characteristics that differentiate it from traditional hosting.
-       It is sold on demand, typically by the minute or the hour;
-       It is elastic -- a user can have as much or as little of a service as they want at any given time; and
-       The service is fully managed by the provider (the consumer needs nothing but a personal computer and Internet access). Significant innovations in virtualization and distributed computing, as well as improved access to high-speed Internet and a weak economy, have accelerated interest in cloud computing.
A more tempered view of cloud computing considers it the delivery of computational resources from a location other than the one from which you are computing.

The service consumer no longer has to be at a PC, use an application from the PC, or purchase a specific version that's configured for smartphones, PDAs, and other devices. The consumer does not own the infrastructure, software, or platform in the cloud. He/She has lower upfront costs, capital expenses, and operating expenses. He/She does not care about how servers and networks are maintained in the cloud. The consumer can access multiple servers anywhere on the globe without knowing which ones and where they are located.


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