The cloud is a common nomenclature that is used in today’s society, but the meaning may still be a little “cloudy” for most people. With all of the acronyms and solutions that make up cloud technology, it’s hard to keep it all straight. Chances are you are using the cloud even though you don’t fully understand what the cloud is.
The cloud technology that you may be familiar with as a consumer is: online photo storage, online music storage, smart phone apps, etc. On the business level, however, solutions get to be more specialized and can get a bit confusing.
Two of the most commonly confused cloud concepts are cloud storage and cloud computing. Though they fall under a cloud umbrella, there are distinct differences between the two. Let’s clear it up:
Cloud storage involves storing data on hardware in a remote physical location, which can be accessed from any device via the Internet. Clients send files to data servers maintained by a cloud provider, instead of storing it on their own hardware.
Cloud computing, on the other hand, uses the power of the Internet to outsource tasks to a third party. These are tasks you would normally perform personally on your computer (i.e. backing up to an external drive or complex processing with a network of computers used with businesses) but are more secure in a cloud environment. Thus, cloud storage is a form of cloud computing, but not all cloud computing is cloud storage.
There are numerous benefits to cloud computing. As cloud computing allows businesses to run programs and applications through the Internet, it saves them storage space, time and money. Billing for the cloud works just like paying for your gas and electric utilities – you are only charged for what you use. Using the cloud allows you to grab what you need, when you need it and then release it back to the cloud.
So…. where does the information go? In both cases, it goes to highly secure data centers that are reliable, scalable, and redundant; and operated by cloud service providers. Once you put your data in the cloud it can be stored in many locations, to ensure geographic diversity so that your information is never lost, even in the event of a disaster.