You must have often heard people asking questions like:
- What’s the cloud?
- Where is the cloud?
- Are we in the cloud right now?
And what do you think is the answer to these questions?
This post is just about that!
The cloud is a server that is accessed over the internet. It avoids the need to operate and manage physical servers.
But then, what is cloud computing?
An Extensive Guide on Cloud Computing
Cloud computing simply means the storage of data and its access on the internet instead of on a computer’s hard drive.
This allows access to data from anywhere in the world and at any time, as long as you have a steady internet connection.
History of Cloud Computing
Ever since the early 2000s, people have been using the cloud directly or indirectly, knowingly and unknowingly. You must have spotted a number of ads on TV with regards to the cloud, especially those by Apple Inc.
While cloud computing seems like a relatively new idea, computing-as-a-service has been going on since the 1960s!
This was the time when computer bureaus used to offer companies to rent “time” on a mainframe computer.
But then, once the concept of personal computers (PCs) came to life, this time-sharing service started to see a downfall as now, buying a computer was much easier!
Cloud computing is slightly based on this time-sharing service. Instead of computing-as-a-service, we now use software-as-a-service.
Companies Offering Cloud Computing Services
There are various companies that offer cloud computing services. Some of the most popular ones are:
- Google – Offers a private cloud that delivers Google’s services like Google Docs to its users. You can even get email access, document apps, maps, web analytics, etc.
- Microsoft – Offers Microsoft Office 365 online. It allows the transfer of all content and business intelligence tools to the cloud. You can even avail of other MS Office applications on the cloud.
- com – It has all its application in its cloud. It also had products on Force.com and Vmforce.com that help developers create personalized and customized cloud services.
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Characteristics of Cloud Computing
While explaining each of the many characteristics of cloud computing is beyond the scope of this article, let me give you a brief about the most important ones.
- Network Access: Cloud computing allows access to your data and resources on a broad range of devices like PCs, mobile devices, and laptops. The best part is that you can access them from the internet.
- Shared Infrastructure: Cloud computing has a virtualized model that enables the sharing of services, storage, and other networking activities. When you have something on the internet that is private to you, but you can share it with people from anywhere, at any time, you know you’re making the most of the cloud.
- Managed Metering: All billing and reporting information is recorded using the metering system on the cloud. So, instead of getting billed for all the services, a customer gets built only for space and services they’ve used during the billing period.
Also read: Cloud Engineer Salary in India
How Does Cloud Computing Work?
Instead of buying new/used computers and infrastructure or data centers, organizations can lease access to anything from applications to storage capacity from a cloud provider company.
It all happens on the cloud, on the internet.
You get access to all your data on any device of your choice. All you have to do is log in to your account and use your documents as you need them.
This way, people can even work away from their workstations.
However, for this, you would need to buy some cloud storage space. While the initial amounts are free (Apple iCloud offers the first 5GB free), you will be required to pay for subsequent usage based on monthly or yearly rates.
The Advantages and Limitations of Cloud Computing
Like every other technology, cloud computing has both advantages and limitations. However, its advantages clearly outnumber the latter.
Let’s check them out!
Advantages of Cloud Computing
- Worldwide Access: As you can access your data from anywhere, it can be said that cloud computing increases mobility. Organizations can now save on infrastructure costs by allowing their employees to work remotely. This also helps save paper in this dying world as you don’t need to carry your documents anywhere.
- Cost Saving: Organizations can save huge on IT resource costs as they can deploy the work to remote workers. This way, both employees and organizations benefit since the employees don’t have to spend money on traveling to and from work.
- Easy Set-Up: It takes only a few minutes to set up a cloud computing service. Just create an account, choose a password, and change your individual settings to suit your needs – such as choosing which devices to allow access to.
- Scalability: Satisfying consumer demands couldn’t get any easier than with the cloud. You get to deploy tasks to your workers rapidly and get it done at peak hours to ensure timely delivery.
- Maintenance Free: All cloud service providers offer free system maintenance for cloud computing services. And since the operations are done via APIs, you do not need to install applications on your computer. This means that your PC would not need any maintenance!
Limitations of Cloud Computing
- Data Privacy and Security: Using the cloud involves third-party access to data. Moreover, since people from all around the world are using the same server of the cloud, they can look for a way to get access to your data, causing a security issue.
- Internet Reliance: Since you need continuous access to the internet in order to get access to your resources on the cloud, you are totally dependent on the internet connectivity of your region. In case your area has low network issues, you’re doomed!
There are other challenges to using cloud computing as well, but they’re quite under control with the recent developments in technology.
Examples of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing supports an immense number of services, including Gmail or the cloud back-up of images and videos on your phone.
Netflix depends on cloud computing administrations to run its video streaming service and its different business frameworks as well.
Cloud computing is turning into the default alternative for some applications: programmers are progressively offering their applications as services over the internet instead of independent apps, the applications of cloud computing have become extremely widespread and almost unavoidable.
In any case, there is a potential drawback to cloud computing, in that it can likewise present new expenses and dangers for organizations utilizing it.
While we evolve in terms of technology and how we access our data, one major future concern comes our way: how do we know that the big names in the industry – Google, Facebook, and Twitter – are growing without misusing our data?
If you think about it, Facebook wouldn’t have been popular had it not been free. And see, where it took us!
So, if the cloud remains to be free, what is the guarantee that our data will be secure?
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Q1. Is cloud computing safe?
Cloud computing has quickly gained mainstream importance as a cost-effective and robust IT solution that all modern businesses are adopting today. However, the rapid advancement of technology generates more scope for security threats. Consequently, it is natural to wonder whether our information is kept safe and confidential in the Cloud. Data privacy is of utmost importance for all businesses planning to migrate to the cloud platform or have already migrated. Most cloud service providers undertake regular safety checks and maintenance of servers to ensure flawless functioning. However, businesses must be in total control of where they store data on the Cloud. They must ensure that the service provider adopts the proper compliance measures to provide adequate security to data.
Q2. Is cloud storage a type of server?
Cloud storage utilizes servers for storing data, much like on-premise storage that many companies use. However, in the case of the Cloud, the data is saved on servers which are off-site, i.e., not located on the premises. When you hear about cloud servers, you have to understand that most of these servers are virtual machines which are hosted on physical servers. You can store and access this data that is saved in a different location through the Internet through cloud storage. As you need to increase space for storing your data, your cloud service provider creates new virtual machines to fulfill your need.
Q3. Where is the cloud server actually located?
Storing data on the Cloud means you are storing it on a device, i.e., server, which physically exists in some geographical location. Your data does not float around in cyberspace. Cloud space actually exists on physical tangible machines or servers located across data centers that are present around the world. Colocation and data center service providers take care of server space dedicated for cloud storage. A lot of cloud service providers do not have their own servers, so they lease space in server farms and data centers which are located across countries.