Cloud technology is a significant trend in both enterprise and consumer software. It’s almost impossible to escape.
Do you use an updated version of Microsoft Word? Your work is backed up to the cloud. Do you collaborate on Google Docs? You’re working in the cloud.
Almost anyone who owns a smartphone interacts with the cloud every day. Both Apple and Android have shifted towards backing up everything you do on your phone and other devices on the cloud.
There are serious benefits to this trend. Finally, you can access all of your data from any device as long as you have your password and an internet connection.
Still, the processes behind this shift remain esoteric. What is the cloud, and where is it going? Keep reading for the answers to these questions plus five ways you can use the cloud to improve your internet use.
What Is Cloud Technology?
The cloud isn’t a physical device or piece of infrastructure. Much like real clouds – the white fluffy ones in the sky – cloud technology is a network of servers with space for you store things in something resembles the internet version of the sky. It’s everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
Applications of cloud technology are more varied than they’ve ever been. The average consumer will be familiar with examples like Microsoft’s OneDrive or Google Drive, which allow you to upload, save, and share things you’ve created on their respective server networks.
But as these systems have become more complex and powerful, they have started to offer the computing power to do things like run applications and software.
Tools previously bought and installed directly on your computer can now be accessed, stored, and run through the cloud.
Adobe offers the best example of consumer use. In the old days (a few years ago), you purchased the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, etc.) from a store or the internet. You had to install the program on your computer and then enter an access code to unlock the full functionality.
Once installed, you could use your program only on the computer it was installed on. If you switched computers, you were out of luck unless you went through the process of transferring the license. More importantly, you couldn’t log in using someone else’s computer. You were limited.
Now, you can log into your Adobe account and pay a monthly subscription fee to access the same programs – and you can do it from anywhere.
- The cloud is another name for a network of servers.
- It stores small individual items (like pictures) and whole software programs.
- It’s available online – so you can access it anywhere.
Types of Cloud Storage
For most of us, it’s enough to understand that the cloud is a system of connected servers. Beyond this, the technical details don’t matter unless you’re interested in enterprise cloud solutions or big data analytics.
Instead, it’s cloud-based storage – and the kinds of cloud storage – available that matter most.
There are three primary types of cloud storage available:
- Private cloud storage
- Public cloud storage
- Hybrid cloud storage
Let’s break down private cloud vs public cloud vs hybrid cloud storage.
The private cloud is often confused for a cloud account locked with a password. In reality, your cloud account is likely part of a public cloud, which we’ll describe later.
A private cloud is a resource you’ve built yourself: you own the servers, data center, and all the software required to make it work. It may be hosted at work or home or hosted by a service provider located elsewhere.
Regardless, a private cloud is a private network that no one else uses. You don’t share resources with other users: they’re kept squarely within your internal operations.
Because private clouds require huge investment, they’re primarily used by organizations that need custom IT maintenance or resources for operation. In most cases, these are mid-to-large size organizations with significant infrastructure budgets, but smaller tech firms also deploy them, particularly those working with big data.
Why choose the private cloud?
If you’re an individual, you shouldn’t. These clouds are out of your reach and frankly useless to you.
But if you’re a business that’s rapidly scaling and requires more processing power, then there are several advantages. It’s very flexible: you can customize the environment to any specification on your own without waiting for an intermediary.
Security is the most important advantage. Because there’s no resource sharing, you’re able to add significantly better security and control measures to protect your property.
The public cloud is the most common cloud technology solution because they are the simplest and most cost-effective.
In a public cloud, all the resources required are managed and owned by the service provider. You can access them from across the internet, and you’ll have access with an account or subscription. In fact, many cloud providers offer an ample amount of free space to those who sign up for an account.
When you use a private account, you’re sharing the cloud with other account holders. They can’t access what you upload because they can’t see the account. But you’re using the same storage and hardware.
In most cases, public clouds for storage and web-based email. But it’s also a popular solution for testing new applications or deploying online office applications (like web-based email).
Why a public cloud?
If you’re an individual user, it’s your only real option because paying for and setting up the software and hardware required is out of your price range and capabilities. What’s more: it’s cheap. You only buy the storage you need, and you don’t need to worry about maintenance.
The public cloud is also advantageous for business uses. It offers the opportunity to start small and scale quickly at an almost on-demand pace. The ability to scale is not only a cost-saving exercise, but it’s more efficient than building a private cloud.
Finally, the public cloud is reliable. Except for a few marked outages, your cloud won’t fail, and your stored items and applications are safe even when your network isn’t.
Hybrid clouds are a mix between the public and private cloud, and they’re the least common type of cloud technology among businesses and individual users. However, their popularity is growing rapidly as firms recognize the necessity of increased privacy and security while also wanting the scalability of a public cloud.
With a hybrid cloud, you get to control the infrastructure while also enjoying the benefits of management and resources provided by public cloud owners.
It’s a more cost-effective version of the private cloud because you can keep only what you need on the private cloud thereby lowering infrastructure costs. Meanwhile, you’re also maintaining the ease and flexibility provided by public cloud computing.
5 Ways Cloud Computing Is Changing Business
Why do on the cloud what you’re already doing on your computer?
That’s the question many of us are still asking. Though, service providers are increasingly taking the question out of our hands.
The cloud offers great efficiency, reliability, and cost-effectiveness. It saves time, energy, and lost projects while saving you serious cash. More importantly, you can use it in surprising ways.
Cloud Disaster Recovery
Data loss is impossibly expensive. You’re losing productivity, product, and cold-hard cash – around $2,450 per hardware device.
With the cloud, you’ll get more than a backup strategy but a restore strategy as well. A cloud disaster recovery strategy is far more effective than physical backups because it’s more flexible and can be implemented in-house.
Upload to the cloud and get back up and running in no time.
Video Editing and Hosting
Think YouTube and Vimeo are your only options for video hosting? Cloud video players help you customize videos and playback for your website without the restrictions associated with the most popular free services.
Don’t force your employees to wander to the faraway lands of IT. Use the cloud to set up a remote network that allows IT to get right into your company computers for remote support.
You’ll get shorter queues, less downtime, and more productivity.
Cloud services offer translation services not only between languages but between voice and text. It removes the language barrier and does so in real time. It means you can collaborate across offices and countries without losing important pieces of information in translation.
Use a cloud-based application for your accounting and finance operations to automate your payroll and see a holistic view of your finances in a secure, customizable matter.
How Will You Use the Cloud?
Whether you use Windows, Android, Apple, or iOS, you’re already using the cloud, even if you don’t realize it.
Although the cloud doesn’t exist in the real world, it still has plenty of applications for both individual and professional users. With options for greater flexibility, scalability, and sharing, you’ll find a way to make your business work better by working with the cloud.
Have you found a creative way to use the cloud? Share your tips in the comments below.