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August 4, 2017

The Cloud? – What is it and why do I keep hearing about it?

Cloud

Often, you hear about the ‘Cloud’ without really knowing what it means. It isn’t a physical thing, it’s a broad network of servers. Each has different functions to perform and often deliver a type of service. So, you may have already heard of some of these forms of cloud service; Dropbox, iCloud, Instagram, Adobe Creative Cloud and many others.

No doubt these are likely services you encounter daily. When you upload an image to Instagram, you’re uploading to the cloud. This goes for anything you store or upload externally on your devices.

There are a few ways that it can be deployed:

Private Cloud

This is an infrastructure made solely for one company or organization. Whether it’s set up internally or externally or managed by a third party.

Public Cloud

May be free but offered over a public network. No difference in architecture between public and private. However, security may be more of an issue within public cloud networks.

Hybrid

Is a combination of two or more clouds that maintain themselves as distinct entities but are bound together. This is a much more dynamic system allowing on the fly changes for each independently or to grow it cohesively.

Security and Privacy

Cloud computing still poses concerns with privacy because service providers can still access the data at any time. Many can share information with third parties if necessary and for reasons of law and order. Encrypting your own files before uploading is a good practice to prevent unauthorized access.

Downsides

Considering how cheap and cost effective it may be to deploy you are still limited by customization. Since cloud computing is effectively an outsourced service you are at the mercy of the vendor. Data caps or bandwidth is often applied by vendors, creating a pay wall for you to overcome in order to gain access to more storage space.

Upsides

Even with the concerns mentioned, using the cloud is still a very viable option. It saves companies and organizations time and money by consolidating systems and programs and making them accessible from anywhere at any time. Though, you may be limited by customization, you typically make up the difference in efficiency. You spend less on maintaining your own systems, upgrading, and tech support. Since, this would typically be handled by the vendor. A typical deployment of this practice is seen in how Office 365 works.

All programs are connected through the cloud making sharing documents and other data far easier and more efficient. From Outlook to Word, and OneDrive to Microsoft Teams and it’s all accessible from anywhere as long as you know your account details. Apple applies a similar approach in their iCloud. Allowing you to easily sync data and information between all your devices.

More on iCloud
More on Office365