What Is The Cloud? – Cloud Computing Explained
Over 60% of corporate data is stored on the cloud, and this is only expected to grow in the future. What is the cloud, and why is it so important to the internet? Let’s find out.
In its most simplistic terms, cloud computing is a hardware computing server that stores data that can be accessed remotely.
As technological innovation grows, so does our need to store large amounts of data. Storing and managing data is complicated and expensive. Essentially, a cloud computing service will do this on your behalf.
Cloud computing stores data in remote servers accessible via an internet connection. A server is computing hardware used to store, send and receive data. Recently, cloud computing demand has exploded. The three main reasons it has become so popular are:
- To store large amounts of data or access large amounts of computing power
Costs are spread monthly or annually, and the hardware is expensive, so cloud computing saves users a significant upfront cost. Also, cloud servers can run power-intensive applications, such as high-performance computing (HPC) algorithms. The interface can be accessed from the client (user’s computer), and the HPC application can be run on a cloud server.
- To manage large amounts of data
This requires highly competent computing experts; many companies prefer to outsource this task to cloud computing providers.
- Interoperability and remote access to software
Post Covid-19, remote work has become more popular, and workers need to access software from different devices. This has led to many organizations adopting cloud computing solutions. Before cloud computing, each worker would have to manually install company software on their PC and be connected to company servers. Now, the same thing can be done seamlessly by visiting web apps.
A study by Flexera found that 57% of participants are moving more workloads to cloud services. This observation represents a broader trend worldwide – companies opting to streamline processes and move towards remote workforces.
These trends suggest organizations prefer to outsource data management and computer services, leaving them to focus on product development and other business areas.
How The Cloud Works:
With this in mind, let’s now consider some of the more technical nuances, capabilities and limitations of cloud computing.
The first thing to know about how cloud computing works is that there are three forms: private, public, and hybrid. For this article, the remaining text will discuss public cloud computing, as this is the most popular.
Users access cloud computing services via the internet by interacting with software or a website interface. The cloud server can send or receive data files through this medium, or users can edit data stored on a server in real-time. The data is encrypted to prevent breaches. Cloud servers are managed by a single company or service provider.
Many users of cloud services share servers. This means data must be separated to prevent breaches. Therefore, data is encrypted when it is initially stored and can only be unencrypted via an identifiable key. This usually comes in the form of a username and password.
To prevent loss of data, cloud servers usually have multiple servers holding the same data in different locations; this is known as redundancy.
Cloud architecture is a great place to start to learn more about the technical side of cloud computing.
Disadvantages of The Cloud:
So far, we have touched on many advantages of cloud computing. However, there are some disadvantages.
Public cloud computing servers are constantly connected to the internet, so even with encrypted storage, data breaches do still occur. This could pose an issue if you have highly confidential information, such as banking passwords. In this instance, storing your confidential data offline in a physical document or hardware without an internet connection would be a safer option.
Another disadvantage of cloud computing is that the service provider controls your data. This means you must trust the provider is ethical and competent. If not, your data is at risk of being lost or leaked.
Also, if an organization fully adopts cloud computing, the cloud becomes critical to the organization’s operation. This creates a vulnerability in case the server is inaccessible for any reason. This vulnerability has led to the idea of multi-cloud computing; however, cloud service providers need to provide more interoperability, making the strategy difficult to implement.
With all this being said, there are certainly scenarios where cloud computing provides vital infrastructure organizations could not succeed without. However, there are also clear limitations in the current cloud computing model.
Cloud computing serves an essential purpose in the modern world, and multi-cloud computing can help mitigate some risks. As adoption increases, we should see more secure and decentralized cloud solutions become available.