With your Head in the Clouds: An Overview of Cloud Computing.

“The Cloud” is one of the biggest current buzzwords in the IT industry- everybody wants it, everybody talks about it and it’s become a necessity for every blogger and business out there. However, very few people have taken the time to answer a very fundamental question: What is the Cloud?

cloud computing

Back in the olden days of floppy disks and magnetic media your computing and data processing companies were limited by the hardware you had inside your computer case. The capability to deal with data was limited by what you physically had; then along came broadband internet and other key innovations in tech and that is no longer the case.

The Cloud is a service. Computers (that could be millions of miles away from yours) can take care of your heavy lifting and data processing, regardless of your physical hardware. This decreases the barrier of entry for many things. Previously, if you needed more memory or better video rendering you had to go out and buy expensive hardware and maybe even pay for someone to install it. Shopping for said hardware was a bit of a mess too, since you had to ensure it was compatible with the rest of your computer rig. Which one is better, a SATA drive or an SSD drive? With a good cloud services provider, you don’t have to worry about that at all.

Think about Smart TVs for a second- how does a TV with minimal storage capability and memory deal with the incredibly huge library of movies from a service like Netflix? It’s simple- it doesn’t. The video and audio compression are done by Netflix and then simply streamed out to your TV. Remote data processing has opened the door for a million new business possibilities and made life easier for all of us.

But aside from helping us watch The Godfather II for the umpteenth time without having to get up and put in the disk, what else can the cloud do?

Well, there’s a whole spectrum of things.  If you have a website, the cloud can help you make sure it is always up. In the past if lighting struck your server, your site would be down for as long as it took you to replace it. With the cloud, if one server fails…you just take its tasks at hand to another. It takes minutes instead of days to get back up and hardware failure becomes just a minor obstacle, instead of a titanic hurdle. The same goes for storage; we all have lost a thumb drive, a CD-R, or maybe even a five and a quarter inch floppy (if you’re a veteran of the computer wars). Losing data can result in loss of time, loss of money and even loss of sanity in the worst of cases. The cloud allows us to have our data available everywhere. Since there’s no tangible object, losing data is a much less common occurrence. You can access your files anywhere from every computer, as long as you have an internet connection.

Finally, having remote processing power increases our ability to run software. Let’s say you need to edit a video using Adobe Premiere but you’re not home and all you have is a borrowed laptop that has seen better days. It barely has enough ram and the sound card leaves a lot to be desired. None of this is an issue with the cloud; you can take advantage of a virtual machine in a remote location that has everything you need. The required amount of power for the physical hardware is minimal and, within reason (a Commodore 64 is not an option), you can run your stuff on any machine you have.

“Anytime, anywhere, with any equipment”. That is the philosophy of the cloud and it can change the way you operate, saving you time, money and helping you be more efficient in everything you do with the internet.