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What is Cloud Computing? Part 4 – “The Cloud”

I suppose if we are going to talk about Cloud Computing, then we need to define the term “Cloud”. The following animation provides a simple and somewhat amusing explanation of the Cloud.

However, after watching this video, you might get the impression that the Cloud is simply a good place to store your data. While this is true, it is only one component of the Cloud.

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Disaster Recovery

Can your business survive a natural disaster?

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), almost 40 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors after a disaster.

The biggest problem when a natural disaster hits is the absence of a disaster recovery plan. If you are interested in what goes in to developing a disaster recovery plan, check out this FEMA site (your tax dollars at work).

If you read closely, the only suggestion for IT preparedness is that, “recovery strategies for information technology should be developed so technology can be restored in time to meet the needs of the business. Manual workarounds should be part of the IT plan so business can continue while computer systems are being restored.”

Wow! That really helps! What are you supposed to do if all of your servers and workstations are destroyed? What if all of your backups are gone too? Where do you source new servers and how do you reload all of your applications and personal data on every personal computer?

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What is Cloud Computing? Part 3 – Desktop Virtualization

Okay, these go from pretty simple to pretty confusing! Rather than repeat the same trite definition you can get elsewhere, I’m going to introduce a new (and hopefully simpler) concept. Desktop Virtualization makes your personal computer (PC) irrelevant by storing your Desktop in the cloud.

Whoa! Wait a minute. That is a short sentence but packs two BIG “punches”.

 First, what exactly is a “Desktop”? Well, when the majority of users log into their PCs, they are typically presented with a screen which contains icons for frequently used applications and frequently accessed folders and files. This is the “starting point” for each user session and is referred to as the “Desktop” by operating system (OS) vendors. The concept of a desktop can be extended to include things like local email files, a My Documents folder (for Windows users), available printers, and mapped network drives. So far, so good?

Also implied is that your Desktop would somehow be stored in the cloud rather than on your local PC. I have taken some liberties with the use of the term “cloud”. Cloud can mean a lot of different things. It could be:

  • A locally attached appliance on server that stores “desktops” on your Intranet; or
  • A physical server hosted by a service provider that is used to create a “virtual desktop environment” for each user; or
  • A group of “virtual” servers offered as a service by a “Cloud Provider” and used for the same purpose.

At Red One NS, we generally mean Amazon Web Services (AWS) when we refer to the “Cloud”.

No matter how the virtual desktop environment is created, once it is deployed, users are no longer tied to a specific device from which to access their Desktop; all that is needed is a network connection to the location where the desktop environment is stored. As a result, personal computers, with their myriad challenges (difficult to secure, hard to manage, and high rebuild/replacement cost), are no longer needed! Instead, an OS agnostic device, with limited memory, storage and CPU resources, can be used to access the virtual desktop environment. Even more exciting, the virtual desktop environment can be accessed from more than one device and in more than one location.

Is that a big deal?

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