What is the Cloud?

What is the Cloud?

Well of course there is an easy answer and there is a more involved answer.  We’re keeping things basic in this post so techies, please excuse us for our simplified answers.

The easy answer is that the cloud is a network of servers where applications are run or data is stored and accessed using the internet………..and the next question I usually get is, what is a Server?  A Server is quite simply a computer – a higher powered computer than you’re average computer but essentially it’s a big computer that is used to share applications and data.  

A lot of businesses have their own local servers in their office for the sharing of data and software. But “The Cloud” is different in that the servers are not located onsite.  There are actual large Data Centres all over the world.  When you log into an app like Instagram or Amazon or even DropBox, you are logging into a server somewhere in the world to get access to that app or your stored data.  Different servers have different purposes.  Some are for storage of data and some are just used to run the different applications or software.

Then just to make things interesting there are 3 different types of “Cloud”:

  1. SaaS – Software as a Service 
    • this is a subscription type service where a business or individual subscribes to an application over the Internet such as Google Apps, GoToMeeting, Saleforce etc.
  2. PaaS – Platform as a Service 
    • this is where a company can plan, develop and run applications from a server over the internet but does not have control over the infrastructure. For Example Windows Azure, Force.com and Heroku
  3. IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service
    • Very basically it is where a business can “rent” a server/s including, storage, network and operating systems – as an on-demand service rather than buying and maintaining their own equipment onsite.

 

Now you have a frown on you’re face and you’re thinking……….I still don’t get it.   But in it’s simplest form, it means your app, software or data is being accessed over the internet.  Your phone, tablet, laptop or computer is accessing a server to get access to the software or data and that server is stored in a building somewhere.  It could be anywhere in the world.

There is a lot of interest in the cloud and truthfully there is a lot of benefits of using the cloud (which we’ll talk more about in future posts).  However, there is also some downsides to the cloud.   One of the biggest stumbling blocks can be your internet service.  Depending on where your business is located, your internet speeds and services may mean that a full cloud service is not advisable.  For most businesses a Hybrid solution is necessary.

 

 

A Hybrid solution is not a car.  Rather it is a mixture of onsite and cloud services used in conjunction to meet the needs of a business.  

In our next blog post, we’ll talk more about Hybrid solutions and why for most (not all) Australian businesses this is still the way to go.

There is so much information out there and so many different options available that it can be very confusing.  The decision to go cloud or partial cloud (hybrid) should be discussed with your IT professional before making any decisions.  A lot needs to be considered including your current services, the amount of staff, the number of email addresses required, your internet access and security of data.   In saying all that, in some form or another you are most likely already using the cloud…….ever heard of Facebook, Instagram, Google apps, or even games like Candy Crush? 

If you have any questions in relation to this post or any other IT related service, please don’t hesitate to contact one of the team here at Xen Technologies.