Technology companies and global media outlets have inundated us with the cloud. But what exactly is the cloud, and how do we define cloud computing? By demystifying what the cloud is and going over cloud computing basics, we hope that you will be able to see how important cloud computing can be to your overall technology needs.
Cloud Computing Definition:
To define what cloud computing is in the simplest form, it is storing and delivering hosted services on the Internet. Software programs and files that are stored on a local hard drive are not considered cloud based. Even though cloud computing technology has been available for decades, it has grown in popularity through large technology companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple.
How Cloud Computing Works:
By hosting software programs online, cloud computing allows users to run multiple programs by logging into one web-based application. This is especially useful in the workplace where multiple computers each require individual software installs.
Rather than installing the program on individual computers or updating the programs when you get a new employee, administrators can host all of the necessary programs on the cloud. This could include things like email, CRM software, anti-virus, Microsoft Office, or even shared drives. Cloud computing makes collaborating on documents and accessing your files easier than ever. It also allows the user to work mobile from any location since programs and files stored on the cloud are web-based.
Learn How Cloud Computing Works in detail here.
Types of Clouds:
- Private Cloud: Some of the earliest versions of cloud computingwere created with limited access for private use. Some of the early pioneers of cloud computing such as IBM, military organizations, and other government agencies developed the technology as a means to host their internal programs and data.
- Public Cloud: Perhaps the most affordable and accessible version of the cloud is the public cloud. This type of cloud is usually accessible through a URL and allows the user to login. Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Dropbox have become household names that offer public cloud computing.
- Hybrid Cloud: A hybrid cloud must have the secure infrastructure of a private cloud but also have some public points of access. This is a popular choice for large companies who want to maintain some internal privacy while running some public applications to collaborate with their constituents.
Read full list of cloud computing types here
Examples of Some Common Clouds:
- Microsoft Cloud:
Microsoft has been one of the most revolutionary computing companies of all time. In recent years, they have helped make office IT systems run more efficiently by offering cloud-based solutions. Most professional offices 10 years ago would install programs like Microsoft Office and Outlook directly to the local hard drive. The new Microsoft cloud offers all of these on web-based applications so that updates and storage can all be hosted on the cloud.
- Google Drive:
This is cloud computingin its most pure form. Google offers a public cloud for users to store documents, collaborate on documents, and host a number of unique applications.
- Apple iCloud:
Apple’s signature cloud began primarily as a backup service for iphone and Macbook users. It allows users to sync files, contacts, and other documents with the cloud that the data is kept secure even if something happens to the local device storage.
- Amazon Cloud Drive:
Amazon has been expanding its retail mission to include more cloud hosting services. From music players to enterprise level website hosting solutions, the Amazon Cloud is one of the largest and most versatile public clouds available.
Benefits of Cloud Computing:
Efficiency is one of the most compelling reasons for companies to consider hosting programs and files in the cloud. While IT services are getting more expensive each year, cloud computing hopes to offer an affordable solution for storage, collaboration, and performance. Another major benefit of the cloud is it allows users to access their information from a mobile Internet connection. This is particularly useful among sales professionals who need to update their appointments and notes while out in the field.
What is Cloud Clients:
Any device used to connect a user to the cloud is defined as a cloud client. While traditional desktop computers have been the most common form of computing interface for decades, there are now a number of cloud clients available. Mobile smart phones, tablets, laptops, smart TV’s, and a number of other devices connect to the cloud through Internet connection.
History of Cloud Computing:
In 1994, an unknown designer used an icon image of a cloud to represent the Internet. This creative rendering of the World Wide Web became popular and it is the foundation for how the cloud got its name. While the first major company to roll out a public cloud service was Amazon in 2006, the technology has been in use much longer. IBM released one of the first major web-based hosting systems in 1972. This allowed employees to enter data remotely.
Over the next 30 years, cloud computing was primarily used by large organizations and required substantial capital to develop. AT&T, NASA, and many others created their own private cloud-based solutions that would eventually change the course of technology for billions of individuals around the globe.
Future of Cloud Computing Technology:
Based on recent trends, the future of cloud computing looks bright. More research is being done each year by large technology companies on how they can increase the practical uses of cloud based computing. Within reach is the development of new applications that will be made available by companies such as Microsoft and Google. There will also be more hybrid cloud options available. Companies like Dropbox and Trello made hybrid cloud solutions available to everyone.
Is Cloud Based Technology Really Secure?
There are certain risks involved in storing and sending information via a web-based host that is not in your personal possession. Over the past several years, more concern has grown around the security of major cloud solutions. Companies like Apple and Amazon have experienced public security breaches that have compromised the personal information of millions of users. While there is minimal risk that the large technology companies hosting popular cloud based servers will ever experience catastrophic loss of user data, it is a good idea to have multiple local copies of the most important files to ensure complete security.
In conclusion, cloud computing is here to stay and offers some exciting new possibilities. Increased competition in cloud computing will no doubt lead to an increase in innovation.
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