What Is Cloud Computing, And How Does The Cloud Work?
Either you’re techy or an explorer in the information technology, you’ve landed on the correct piece. “Cloud” computing or “cloud” is the new growth industry in IT. So this is the first article in our “learn cloud computing” series. It’s not a relatively new idea but here to stay. So let’s start our journey to learn cloud computing.
What is cloud computing?
When you use your cellphone and laptop you’re accessing information from your hard drive or RAM (quick access storage) that is your “local storage” and when you use various applications depending on your network or correctly which require the internet (e.g., browsers or Netflix) to access data or watch videos, you are using the Internet or “cloud” storage. Simple!
Since we use it all the time, there is a lot that misses the eye. Cloud computing simply means storing data and programs on the Internet. So, where did this “cloud” come from? Remember the basic flowcharts and network diagrams? Well, it’s the very same cloud that floated over those diagrams.
So let’s use the elimination method to learn about the cloud computing concept. Just like we ruled out the hard drive (as it is local storage), we can rule out the network-attached storage (NAS) or server on the premises as well. The idea of cloud computing is to access the data remotely using the Internet anywhere, anytime.
So, where do YOU use cloud computing?
Google Services: Does Google ring a bell? Oh yes! Google is running a full house of cloud applications. Google Drive, Gmail, Hangouts, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google Sheets, you name it. These applications are the most accessible examples of cloud computing. You can access your data without time, device or location restrictions! Seamless and quick access guaranteed.
Apple iCloud: The primary storage for all iOS users, Apple’s iCloud, gives a Google competitive service to the iOS users for not only online storage but also seamless synchronization of data, emails, calendar, and contacts. The best part is you can install the right applications and access the information on windows devices as well. Once again, cloud computing saves the day. Need another example? “Find my iPhone.” Trace your phone anytime, anywhere, and you’ll be connected.
Amazon Cloud Drive: Regular Amazon users are pretty used to the ease of the Amazon Cloud Drive. Either it’s the Amazon purchased MP3s, to store images, or to sync your kindle, the Amazon store is in sync with the cloud, and the data is tapped away.
Dropbox: In Dropbox, cloud computing and local store go hand in hand. Basically, a synced version of your data is stored on your local storage. The foundation is the seamless synchronization to provide ease of access locally, as well.
How does the cloud work?
Now that we’ve cleared “what” cloud is let’s discuss how it works. Cloud computing basically allows you access to various servers or data storage centers using a broad spectrum of applications over the internet. As each service requires a source, a provider, many companies act as a provider of the cloud services, e.g. Amazon Web Services. Not just an online store, eh? Amazon Web Services sure are on the top. However, it’s not the only cloud service provider. Kamatera, Google Cloud, Digital Ocean, Rackspace, Massive Grid, Liquid Web and Microsoft Azure are also in the top games. Even Alibaba Cloud has joined the race of cloud computing. What is with these huge markets and cloud computing anyway?! Anyhoo, you get the idea.
Types / Models of cloud computing
The clouds come in all shapes and sizes, but based on their development model, we can classify cloud computing into four main types. Let’s overview each model below.
The most common of the cloud computing models, public cloud computing is to use cloud services (servers, storage, hardware) owned by a third party. One of the most natural examples is Microsoft Azure. Each user (application/web service) is a tenant for the third-party service (e.g., Microsoft Azure) and offer services over a browser or a mobile application. The benefits include not just unlimited scalability, increased reliability and no maintenance, interestingly it is relatively cheaper than other models. Another example of private cloud computing can be the various games and video streaming websites. “Tenants” using remote servers of AWS or Azure to reach its consumers.
Private cloud computing is, as its name suggests, exclusively secluded for a specific business. It could either be located in an organizations’ data centers or services hosted by a third party. Opposite to a public cloud, the private cloud computing cornerstones on dedicated hardware, software and cloud for an organization to meet its IT requirements. Private clouds are mainly used by governments or institutions with sensitive data. The private networks are extremely secure, scalable and far more flexible. The only catch is the setup and maintenance cost of these cloud systems.
After reading the above, I bet you must be thinking, how can one reap the benefits of both? Well, the hybrid cloud is just that or perhaps more. With more control, flexibility, scalability on need, and ease of transition, hybrid computing allow the organization to use both models. Private cloud computing for in-house secure or financial data sharing and public cloud computing for less sensitive data such as emails etc. The hybrid cloud computing models are useful in switching between private and public cloud computing as well. The analysts and programmers can set up the volume of the cloud, and once it exceeds that limit, the private cloud can be switched to the public cloud allowing more users for seamless services and back to private once the set limit is achieved again.
A community cloud is a step forward. It’s stepping out of the organization and joining hands with other companies harmonizing, focusing on the same set of goals and vision. The community cloud usually uses public cloud computing as its foundation.
Let’s catch you in the next time to learn cloud computing! Stay tuned.