When asked the question ‘What is the cloud?’ you may have looked up at the sky and responded with ‘Well, first of all there isn’t only one, and it depends; it could be cumulus, stratus,  stratocumulus or cumulonimbus?’ But this isn’t a lesson from your primary school Geography lesson days.

I’m sure at this stage of the digital evolution you know a little bit about what the cloud is, and hopefully your grandmother has heard of the term too, not when discussing the weather, but within the context of the ICT (information and communication technology) sector.

How did the cloud originate?

In the beginning, the ‘cloud’ was something that people almost feared. It was seen as mystical and dangerous and almost seemed to be out of a fairytale book. There was uncertainty about security and where it was actually located. “It can’t just be up there, hanging in cyberspace, what is it going to do with my files and how do I get them back down again?”

What most people don’t realise is that they are probably already using the cloud without even knowing it. What it is, in a nutshell, is software and services that run on the internet rather than on your computer or those really expensive servers businesses use to store their company files.

The cloud originated from the idea that businesses and people needed a more efficient way of storing information. A way that was secure, cost-effective and easier to manage than your own servers or external hard drives.

The cloud is efficient and secure
The cloud is efficient and secure

What can I use the cloud for?

Your YouTube videos are hosted in the cloud
Your YouTube videos are hosted in the cloud

There are three types of cloud deployment

  1. Public deployment
    Where the services are provided off-site over the internet. Although this cloud service, like Google Drive, is really efficient, they are not as secure as private cloud services.
  2. Private cloud services
    These are maintained on a private network. These cloud services offer better security measures and a sense of control but they will cost you more. An example is Microsoft Office 365.
  3. Hybrid cloud services
    This is a blend of both public and private cloud computing services. The hybrid option is nice because you can spread your needs out across different options and then start to reduce your costs. Some of the challenges may be integration between the different platforms including different security measures.

Some other cool things about our white, puffy friend

If your computer or servers get destroyed you still have your information
If your computer or servers get destroyed you still have your information

Final thought

Don’t be afraid of what the cloud is, it’s not pie-in-the-sky stuff, it really works well and makes you and your business or schoolwork or personal administration at home much more efficient and safer.

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