We’ve all heard about the cloud, but what is the cloud, really?
The cloud refers to software and services that run on the Internet, instead of locally on your computer or on servers in your company’s data center. Many cloud services can be accessed through a web browser like Firefox or Google Chrome, and thousands of companies offer mobile apps that interact with cloud computing resources.
Consumer-Class Cloud Services
There are countless examples of services that you are probably already using without realizing it. Some examples include:
- Google Drive
- Apple iCloud
- Yahoo Mail
These are what one might call “consumer” class cloud services. They represent the types of services commonly and frequently used by ordinary consumers.
Business–Class Cloud Services
At the same time, there are thousands of “business” or “commercial” class cloud services. For example:
- Google’s G-Suite
- Microsoft Office 365
Cloud-hosted versions of software such as these, allow you to conduct common, everyday business tasks. For example, send and receive email, and create and collaborate on documents and spreadsheets.
Flexibility of the Cloud
But the cloud is also much, much more. Using solutions, such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS), you can define and create entire virtual data centers virtually.
Within Azure or AWS you can create servers, storage, backups, disaster recovery, firewalls, networks, VPNs, and more. All the pieces required for a fully equipped datacenter can all now reside in the cloud and be accessible from any internet connection.
When you work within cloud-hosted services, your work remains in the cloud which is tremendously advantageous for users who desire flexibility. This means you can start a document or a spreadsheet on your home computer, continue it on your work computer, and then share it with colleagues to invite their edits and collaboration. If your home or work computer dies, you do not lose your work. Your work is safely stored in the cloud. Additionally, your document or your work is not tied to a specific computer. Therefore, it is accessible from any computer that can log into your cloud account.
Now, hopefully, you understand that the cloud is all around you. You are likely already a customer and consumer of cloud-hosted services and applications.