What actually is the Cloud?

“The cloud” isn’t floating somewhere out in the ether. It’s made up of physical places that house software, hardware, and services that run on the internet (the cloud) as opposed to running locally on your computer or smart device. There are many “clouds” that are run by companies big and small, universities, and the government. Cloud providers offer many services such as online applications, computing power, data storage, infrastructure, and SaaS (software as a service) where providers deliver an application to end users through a browser.
The cloud is cheap. For small businesses, the savings include fewer hardware and software purchases, less space to house hardware, fewer resources to maintain the hardware, and less electricity to power and cool those systems.

It’s convenient. When the data or application you want to access lives in the cloud, you can access it from most any device in any location as long as you have access to the internet WIFI. That means you and your employees can securely access files and other work materials from anywhere in the world.

It’s scalable. Individuals and businesses often only pay for what is used – storage, computing, applications. Cloud computing can quickly allocate and manage resources to accommodate business IT requirements and fluctuations without the need to purchase, configure, and maintain large data centres and staff.

It’s safe. Or is it? While it is simple and inexpensive to utilise the cloud, there are some risks. Whether your data is stored in a private or public cloud, there is always the risk of a data breach. Most cloud providers have great security protocols and track records; however, several high-profile hacks have made the news including movies leaked before their release dates, compromising photos of celebrities, as well as leaks of personal data including names, addresses, and social security numbers. Most companies have stepped up their security, but the risk remains as hackers continue to find ways to access large amounts of data in search of their next big score.

It wasn’t until the ’90s when mobile devices exploded on the scene that the idea of cloud computing became the norm. Since mobile devices lacked the storage and processing capabilities of a PC, there had to be a way to securely run applications and store data remotely. As mobile devices became “smart” and started to connect with other devices, the cloud allowed for even more convenience.

The cloud, as we know it today, is primarily attributed to the rise of Amazon when they debuted their Amazon Web Service in 2006. AWS offered computing power, database storage, developer tools, and other functionality to help businesses scale and grow, making the cloud accessible and affordable to many.

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