In order to discuss how cool cloud computing is, we first must understand what it is. Boiled down to the simplest definition possible, cloud computing refers to data stored on a remote database.
Let’s say you buy a digital song or an ebook, but you don’t save the file to a physical device. It doesn’t stop existing just because it’s not on a hard drive, right? The data is stored on the “cloud”, where it can be accessed remotely — and not take up valuable space on your device if you’re not using it. There are other functions of cloud computing, but most of us are probably most familiar with the services that give us access to media and entertainment. That makes it the easiest example to use to understand what cloud computing is, but if you want to know more, here are six additional facts:
- The cloud can be public, private, or hybrid.
Private clouds are dedicated to a single organization, and public clouds are available for the public to use. Hybrid clouds are a mix of the two. Data on a public cloud is easier to share. If you have to sign up for an account with a company to access its services, it’s a private cloud. Opening an online document without first creating an account is a public service.
- It is super easy to back up data on the cloud…
How nice is it to buy an ebook and know you can always download it again later? Businesses also love this feature, as it allows them to store online backups of important data. Computer crashes and natural disasters are slightly less scary once the risk of losing thousands of hours’ worth of progress is eliminated by online storage.
- …but there’s also a chance you might lose it if something happens to that service.
It doesn’t happen very often, but let’s say you purchase a digital copy of a video game. The game, for whatever reason, is later pulled from the storefront. No new sales for that particular game are being made.
Should you delete or otherwise lose your digital copy of that game, there is a very strong probability that you won’t be able to download it again from the storefront — because once the store stops selling it, they usually remove the data from their cloud services as well.
- It’s cheaper than traditional data storage methods.
You might be familiar with digital media sales, but businesses find cloud storage to be cheaper too! They save a lot of space and money on hardware alone.
- Cloud servers are virtual.
This is a bit confusing, but for the most part, data is stored on physical “servers”. A cloud server divides multiple physical servers into multiple virtual servers. Special tools are used to abstract the physical servers’ processing powers and pool them together, thus creating the virtual servers.
- You can access cloud storage from anywhere with an internet connection.
This one seems pretty self-explanatory, but really, it’s as simple as it sounds! Data exists on the Internet, so you need the Internet to access it!