We throw the term ‘the cloud’ around a lot these days, to the point where it has almost lost meaning to us. If something is in ‘the cloud’ it’s floating in some kind of digital nether space above our heads, almost like real clouds. Cloud computing is something many of us have welcomed into our day to day lives, with our phones and computers often programmed to hook in and back up automatically. But unless you speak techie, how on earth are you supposed to know what the cloud is or how it works? By reading this blog of course.
In the simplest terms, cloud computing means that instead of all of your data and programmes being stored on your computer (where they take up an awful lot of space) or on your company’s network, it is stored on a completely separate system somewhere else. You can access your programmes and data at any time over the Internet, allowing you to make the most of your physical computer speed and keeping your data safe in case something goes wrong. The term ‘cloud’ is just a metaphor for the Internet. It goes back to the days when flowcharts and presentations would represent the Internet as nothing but a puffy white cloud, accepting connections and doling out information as it floats along. Whenever you hear the term ‘The Cloud’, think of it as a big virtual space that can be used to connect users and share information.
So that’s all very interesting, but how does this strange cloud thing actually work?
Well the first thing to understand is that cloud computing is not about your hard drive, or indeed the any storage space. When you store data and run programs from the hard drive built in to your computer that is known as local storage and computing because everything you need is physically close to you. For this reason, storing your data on a home or office network is also considered local computing and does not count as utilizing the cloud. Working locally is how computers and users functioned for decades in the beginning, and there are many who still favour local computing for complex tasks that require a lot of information to be available at an instant. However, for most, cloud computing is the preferred way of working.
In order to be considered ‘cloud computing’, you need to be accessing your data and storage via the Internet instead of locally. For individuals this might mean using Google Drive or iCloud to host all of your information instead of storing it on your computer. But if you’re a business there are a few more options open to you, all designed to help ease your IT costs and concerns. You can opt for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which means you’re paying a monthly subscription to use someone else’s hardware to store your information rather than your own, accessing it over the Internet. There is Platform as a Service, which is usually reserved for bigger businesses who are developing web based tools and software, so they are hosted elsewhere. For example, you might develop your own ecommerce website but have the whole thing running on a merchant’s server instead of your own. The final option is Software as a Service (SaaS), which allows you to use all of your software while it runs on someone else’s’ system. The best known example of this is Google Docs, which allows you to view, edit and save document within the Google ecosystem.
Cloud computing is quickly becoming the norm for many people and businesses, and it’s not hard to see why. Hosting programmes and storage on off-site servers means you will not see a decline in your computers speed or performance, extending its lifespan. It increases your mobility, allowing you access to your programs from any device around the world, as long as it has an Internet connection. No more carrying around documents or being unable to work on something because the person who has the document is away. It also opens up the possibility of unlimited storage. Where you only have a limited amount of storage built in to your machine, cloud hosted storage can be infinitely expanded. Cloud computing services are easy to set up, taking only minutes and the most basic computing knowledge, and are often much cheaper than investing in the equipment you would need to achieve the same results yourself. Many businesses now operate on a IaaS and SaaS basis in order to reduce their capital and ongoing expenses on IT equipment and infrastructure. An added bonus is knowing your software will always be up to date with the latest patches, as it is the cloud computing provider who will ensure all updates are available. All you have to do is download them.
At All Your Computers we provide cloud hosting services to hundreds of businesses both small and large. We ensure that our solution is tailored to fit your needs while providing an up to date, secure and robust solution that will never fail. So if you want to use the cloud for your everyday computing or just as a backup in case of disaster, get in touch and see what our cloud solutions can do for you.