What Cloud Computing Means in Today’s World
Pete Chen | Manager, Hosting Services
The greatest misconception about the eruption of cloud computing is that it’s new. Cloud environments have been around for decades, just called something else. There’s no mystery behind cloud technology, no secret to making it better than on-premises solutions. Your files don’t magically go up into the air and hover there in electronic form until you decide to pull it down with a spell. The only differences between the “clouds” of the past and those of the modern era are speed, security, and availability.
Simply put, cloud computing is a hosted environment. The same servers, hard drives, switches, firewalls, and routers exist. The same security protocols are used for physical access. When you store information in a cloud service, you are sending your data to someone’s data center. It is delivered through their firewalls and guided down the network path to the servers. The data is stored on hard drives similar to the hard drives in your laptop or computer.
Imagine going to your computer and uploading your photos to a cloud backup service. You click the upload button and see it’s going to take 10 minutes to upload each picture. If your folder contains 30 pictures, uploading those pictures will take 5 hours! The biggest difference between the data centers of the past compared to modern data centers is the speed with which the networks can send and receive data from the outside world. We live in a world where data transfer rates normally hover around 1Mbps, not Kbps. Faster data transfer rates mean you can send and receive data much faster than before. Storing a folder full of pictures takes less than a minute to upload and a similar time to download. The speed with which these actions can be done makes it possible for these services to thrive. Imagine the same scenario as before: uploading 30 pictures. This time, each picture takes about 5 seconds to upload. It now takes less than 3 minutes to upload, and you can get on with your life.
Security is also very important. If you knew every item you uploaded to the cloud would be available to every internet user, would you still use it? Network security has always been available, but the sophistication of encryption has evolved over the years. Knowing your data is relatively safe from intruders is important not only for businesses, but also for keeping your personal data private. Cloud services have adopted strong security measures to ensure your data is protected. Users can rest assured the embarrassing pictures, or copies of their identification documents, are safe from prying eyes.
Availability of service completes the trio of improvements in cloud technology. While the concept is related to speed, it also includes the breadth of access points a user has to access their information. Having high-speed internet at work is great, but if that is the only place where you can quickly access all your files, it may seem impractical for home use. Furthermore, if employees of a company can quickly access work documents from abroad, it makes the service much more useful for business use. Having faster internet access at home, on a mobile device, and in the work place is vital for cloud services to work. The ability to access documents anywhere in the world on various devices helps to make people productive anytime, anywhere.
Cloud services are more than just a re-brand of an old concept; they’re also faster, safer, and more highly available than their predecessors. Managing infrastructure, whether it’s at home or in the work place, can get expensive and may not meet the same standards as a large cloud service provider. Knowing our data is safe and easily accessible makes cloud technology the perfect solution for many of our computing needs.