What Exactly is the Cloud?

what is the cloud

No matter where you turn, mention of Cloud Computing is everywhere in the IT industry. But what is the Cloud, and where is it located? And most importantly, how can it help your business?

The concept of the Cloud has been around for decades, although its name has changed a few times. As early as the 1970s there were remote processes based on IBM mainframes that provided a very primitive version of data sharing. This technology was referred to as a data center, and it was the very first iteration of what is now called the Cloud.

The Cloud, simply put, is the practice of using remote network servers on the Internet to easily store, manage, access, and process data. This is in comparison to storing data on your hard drive or local network.

The Evolution of the Cloud

The first mention of the Cloud in its modern sense was in 1996, where Compaq had mentioned it extensively inside of one of their internal documents. It wasn't until 10 years later when the term seemed to catch on when then-CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, introduced the concept at a tech conference in 2006.

The Cloud then proceeded to become a more tangible concept the following year, when big players like Amazon and Microsoft began to mention it and provide "Cloud-based" services.

Nowadays the distinction between local and Cloud Computing is growing thinner and thinner. The Cloud is becoming more integrated with everything we use, from Adobe's service, Creative Cloud, to Microsoft Office 365 and hundreds of products in between. These products may have a basic program placed on our local hard drive, but a majority of the content is stored in the Cloud, and thus, must be accessed with an active Internet connection.

The cloud is a metaphor for the Internet. It’s a rebranding of the Internet.That is why there is a raging debate. By virtue of being a metaphor, it’s open to different interpretations.” 

-Reuven Cohen, cofounder of Cloud Camp

Advantages of Cloud Computing

The Cloud is very advantageous for businesses and personal means. Imagine being able to store hundreds of terabytes of data without having to worry about the physical storage of said devices, like servers or desktop computers. It is very possible with the Cloud. Instead of having massive server rooms dedicated to storing all of your data, all you need is an Internet connection to access that very same information.

Because of the reduction of servers, it also means that there is a reduction in cost associated with running said servers. Less electricity is utilized, less room (more room for expansion!) is needed, and fewer things to maintain.

Another major benefit is with the ease of mobility. Rather than having to be in a specific location to access the data that you may need, you are able to login from anywhere to retrieve it. Imagine that you are at home plugging away on a presentation at 10:00 PM for a meeting being held at 8:00 AM the following day. You are about to finish up, but realize that you had a critical case study saved... on your desktop at work. This kind of horror can be prevented with Cloud storage -- you can simply log in to your account to download this important study, finish up the presentation, and get a full nights' sleep.

cloud computing definition

Types of Cloud Computing

There are hundreds of ways that Cloud Computing can benefit your business. A few examples of the different types of cloud computing offerings:

  • Mobile Apps
  • Websites
  • Data Backup and Recovery Services
  • Internet of Things

Just think about it: most of the things that you do online are considered part of the Cloud. Microsoft's Office Online (including Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.) is a Cloud-based service, as is Google Drive. Apple's iCloud is also a much more obvious form of Cloud-based storage.

SaaS, PaaS, and XaaS, Oh My!

Have you heard the acronyms SaaS, PaaS, XaaS, or maybe even IaaS? They all stand for "X"-as-a-Service, like Software-as-a-Service or Everything (X)-as-a-Service. They are all types of Cloud-based offerings. To learn more about the "-aaS" acronyms, feel free to read up on them on this blog on HaikuMind.

Despite all of the benefits that Cloud Computing can offer, there are several sources that don't feel that it is credible enough to back. Some companies worry that if there is an Internet outage they are unable to retrieve their data, or that some Terms and Conditions of certain Cloud services make it questionable on if their data is actually the company's, or the company that is hosting's intellectual property. For example, Facebook and Instagram claim rights to utilize the photos that you upload to their services in any way they please.

Does your company use the Cloud? What kind of services do they use? Share in the comments below!

Topics: Technology, Main, Internet, data, IT, Big Data, Cloud, Microsoft, Cloud Connectivity, cloud computing, server, database, SaaS, Amazon AWS, Apple

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