If you do a Google search for “cloud” or “cloud technology,” you will find thousands of different answers; therefore, I want to take a few minutes to help bring some understanding to this subject.
Where did the term “cloud” come from? To understand that we need to cut it back a few steps.
The first thing we need to understand is this thing called a “network”? A “network” is where you have more than one device connected together. This could be your computer connected to a printer, 2 computers connected to a printer or 10,000 computers connected together. If you have a printer at your home or office connected to your computer, then you have an existing network in place.
Whenever one draws a diagram of a network, typically the internet will be depicted with or as a “cloud”. That is where the term “cloud” originated.
There is another type of computer called a “server”. A server is a larger computer that serves information to other computers. A server can have many types of programs on them that are then accessed by other computers. A few of the most common things you will see servers used for are things like “file share” or “emails”. File share gives you a place to save files that are not on your local computer or laptop.
What is a data center? A datacenter is a large, secure room that has many servers. The servers could be all owned by one company or they could have many companies located within these data centers. These servers can be setup to fully replace the servers you currently have within your offices, thus eliminating the need to own and maintain your existing ones.
Datacenters can be used for many, many things. For example if you have a gmail, yahoo or AOL email account your email is on one or many of these servers around the globe. If you bank on-line, your banking information is on one or many of these servers in one or many of these datacenters.
With that said, engineers have figured out new ways to help us utilize these servers. For example iCloud. This is where Apple decided to give you space on one or lots of these servers to allow you to store music and photos. As a result, your music and photos can be synced (over the internet) with all your devices (mobile phone, laptops, desktops or tablets).
What are some of these “Cloud Services”?
One of the largest migrations in cloud technology is currently taking place. This is in the phone industry. Typically companies buy very expensive phone systems to transfer calls, have voicemail systems etc. With the advent of the datacenters it is now possible to put these elaborate phone systems into the cloud, thus making it so companies don’t need to spend thousand or hundreds of thousands on new phone systems.
Another cloud technology that has seen amazing growth is the desktop virtualization. Virtualization means to take something and make it computer generated. So virtualizing a desktop means to take your actual computer desktop and run it on a server across the internet.
The way this works is quite amazing. Let’s say you want the fastest computer in the world. Well, you just buy space and speed on a server and then run your computer from that server. All you have to do is login via the internet and you can see your virtual computer. All the memory and speed are running on the server, which means could login from your office computer and start typing an email, get in your car and drive home then login with your iPad and the computer would open exactly where you left off typing that very same email. All completely secure and backed-up by multiple computers which allows you to securely work from anywhere!
I hope this explanation of the cloud helps. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.