If you’re remotely involved with modern computer infrastructure, you’ve probably heard a lot about “the cloud”. Cloud computing is a major aspect of nearly all modern computer companies’ day-to-day operations. But what, exactly, is “the cloud,” what is cloud computing, and what are the advantages of using the cloud? Let’s take a closer look.
What is the Cloud
In general terms, “the cloud” refers to any server banks and data centers that are accessed via the internet for the purposes of storage or computing. So, when something is advertised as an enterprise cloud storage solution, what they’re essentially marketing is server space for storing a company’s files.
Likewise, cloud services network typically refers to a networked series of servers that can handle computing tasks. In the consumer sphere, this can be used to stream video games, like in the case of Google’s Stadia service or Microsoft’s xCloud. In the business space, cloud computing can be useful for running reports and crunching numbers with computers that are beefier than those the business has on-site.
How Does it Work?
Cloud computing works under the paradigm of “virtualization”. Essentially, a cloud server or network of servers runs a completely virtual computer within its own data banks. These “virtual machines,” as they’re known, behave like normal computers with their own hardware, but are typically isolated from other virtual machines running on the same server.
The purpose of this is to maximize the usefulness of servers and data centers. By allowing virtual machines to cordon off space for each cloud user, one server can, in effect, act as numerous servers for numerous end users. This is how cloud computing is able to serve so many clients simultaneously.
Why is This Useful?
In their most basic application, as off-site storage, cloud servers are plainly useful. A user can store images or other files on an off-site server and access them irrespective of the device they use.
Password-protected cloud computing allows any device to be used as an end users personal device. This saves on storage on the user end while also adding convenience in the event of a lost or destroyed personal device.
For a business, switching to cloud storage or cloud computing can be huge for data security management. For a small-to-medium sized business, this can dramatically reduce the overhead of using their own servers, updating and maintaining them, and paying for IT specialists who upkeep the server banks.