What is Cloud Computing? Here are Few Things You Need to Know About It
When you come to think of the word ‘cloud computing’ what really pops in your mind? Probably something related to computing being done in the clouds, isn’t it? Apart from that, a plenty of other questions about cloud computing must have come to your mind: what is the cloud exactly? Is it a white, puffy cloud? Where is the cloud? Are we living in the cloud right now? Does our information gets stored in the cloud? These are some questions you may have heard a lot or even asked yourself.
What is Cloud Computing?
To explain cloud computing in simple words, we would simply put it as a system that stores and accesses your data and programs over the internet (cloud) instead of your computer’s hard drive. The word ‘cloud’ is used as a metaphor for the internet. However, there are still some misconceptions about cloud computing that still continue to float around.
Cloud computing is not about your hard drive. When you’re storing data or running programs on your hard drive, then that’s called local storage and computing only. Everything you need – whether it’s a file, a picture, a video, or even a program – is physically close to you and can be accessed on your computer or any others on the local network whenever you want in a quite easy and fast way. Cloud computing is not that.
Further to that, it is also not about having a dedicated network attached storage (NAS) hardware or server on your computer. When you’re storing data on a home or office network then that doesn’t mean you’re utilizing the cloud.
Like mentioned earlier, cloud computing is all about storing and accessing your data or programs over the internet, or at the very least, having that data synchronized with other information floating over the web. For cloud computing to take place, you must have an online connection so that it can be done anywhere and at any time.
Popular Versions of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing offers different versions, depending on what type of customer is being targeted and what their IT needs are. When you know what your IT requirements are then you’re able to select the right version of cloud computing instead of investing in new IT hardware.
While there are many varieties offered by cloud computing, two of the more popular versions are Software-as-a-Service (Saas) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).
With SaaS, the provider offering cloud computing service, hosts your organization’s programs, applications, and associated data on its own servers and storage systems. The users then gain access to SaaS servers using a web browser (having an internet connection is required to gain access to cloud computing.) To use the provider’s cloud service, your organization would typically pay a fee per user per month.
On the other hand, with IaaS, the cloud service provider offers virtual machines, storage, switching, physical servers and connectivity resources to run your organization’s programs and applications on a pay-as-you-go basis. Your organization is responsible for installing and maintaining the operating system as well as the application or virtual machine.
As far as the provider is concerned, it will be their responsibility to manage the infrastructure hardware on which the applications or virtual machines run on. Big players like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google offer IaaS that can be rented out by the other companies. For instance, Netflix, one of the leading online streaming services, provides you with the unprecedented collection of movies and TV shows because it has rent out some space in the cloud managed by Amazon.
Apart from SaaS and IaaS, cloud computing also has another version known as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), where an organization can create its own custom applications so that they can be used by everyone in the organization. Basically, organizations create their own platform where applications can smoothly and also are used by everyone.
Common Examples of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is almost everywhere and is being used widely by the majority of users all over the world. Here are some of the most common examples of cloud computing.
It’s true to some extent that the lines between local computing and cloud computing sometimes become quite blurry. The reason is, the cloud is part of almost everything that we do on our computers these days. Software like Microsoft Office 365 is a part of local computing but it also utilizes a form of cloud computing for storage purpose namely Microsoft OneDrive.
Apart from OneDrive, Microsoft also provides a set of web-based apps popularly known as Office Online, that offers online-only versions of MS Office including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. These online-only versions are accessed via a web browser without getting to install anything. This is what makes Office Online a version of cloud computing.
Amazon Cloud Drive
Amazon provides its own IaaS by allowing you to store digital data that you purchase from the big retailer’s website – be it music (preferably MP3s,) images, etc. It’s Cloud Drive holds anything you buy for the Kindle (eBooks.)
Google Drive is a pure example of cloud computing, proving storage space online for the cloud apps such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. One of the best things about Google Drive is that apart from the desktops, it also works seamlessly on other electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and iPads, providing separate cloud apps for them.
In fact, most of the Google’s services could be considered examples of cloud computing. Gmail, Google Maps, Google Calendar – all of them are part of cloud computing system.
Similar to the cloud services offered by other tech giants, Apple’s cloud service is also essentially used for online storage, backup, and synchronization of your mail, calendar, contacts, and much more. All the data you need on your iOS devices is available for you.
Inarguably, Apple never stays behind its competitors and has always upped its game. Like Google, it also offers cloud-based versions of its word processor (Pages), spreadsheet (Numbers), and presentations (Keynote) so that they can be used by any of the iCloud subscribers easily.
With the help of iCloud, iPhone users can utilize the Find My iPhone feature in case their phone goes missing.
Box, DropBox, and SugarSync are some of the examples of hybrid cloud services as they store a synced version of users’ files online apart from syncing them with local storage. The ability to synchronize the files online while making them accessible locally is considered as a cornerstone of the cloud computing.
Why Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is considered to be an economical way as it supports many organizations by not letting them buy to maintain their own infrastructure. Since many data centers are now running out of space, cloud computing is helping out organizations to move their applications and data to the provider’s infrastructure and save the cost of expanding their own data centers.
With cloud computing, the IT staff members can offload the tasks that usually revolve around managing, maintaining, and troubleshooting the equipment. Most of the cloud service providers offer infrastructure and management services, allowing companies to get relieved from the mundane tasks and asking their IT staff members to pay close attention to those projects that are more beneficial for the success of the business. All in all, it saves a huge chunk of IT costs for any organization.
Though edge computing has now made an entry into the world of technology, trying its best to leave a permanent mark and bring a change in the entire network system, still cloud computing is very much there and is being used by organizations all across the world.