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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.

The next video gives a broader and slightly more historical perspective of the Cloud. If you are a little “geeky”, this will definitely appeal to you.

Okay, if you are still awake, let’s finish with something a little more “peppy”.

Aha! Now we’re getting somewhere. Besides the fact that any presentation involving Legos is super cool, the message conveyed in this short video is that the Cloud has evolved to mean multiple things which are especially important to businesses! The most important components of the cloud include:

  • Massive arrays of IT hardware to facilitate high-speed data communications
  • Large Data Centers hosting server farms (physical and virtual) with redundant power and HVAC systems
  • A wide assortment of servers

✔  File Servers for storage

✔  Database and application servers for Cloud and custom applications

  • Application development environments
  • Big Data processing environments

The diversity and complexity of the cloud is astounding. And it is important to note that no single company created or controls the Cloud (although Amazon is trying really hard!). In addition to Amazon, companies like Google, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and others have created “Cloud Environments” and offer Cloud services to their customers. If you have the technical expertise to establish a “cloud presence”, Cloud providers like these offer software tools that allow you to configure, utilize and monitor the various services that they offer. But what if you don’t have the in-house expertise to create a cloud presence?

That is where a cloud services integrator can really make a difference! A Cloud architect can assess and baseline your IT environment and develop a plan to migrate your data, applications and desktop environment into a Cloud environment. The integrator will have relationships with one or more Cloud Providers and will choose the environment that is best suited to your needs.

To recap, the Cloud is a collection of services offered to businesses by Cloud Providers and is comprised of physical equipment located in large data centers all over the world. Some companies use the Cloud to host applications which they then market to other businesses and consumers (e.g., Cloud storage, cloud backup and online applications). When you use one of these services, you are indirectly using the Cloud and all of its wonderful advantages.

Speaking of wonderful advantages, is everything about the Cloud great! Is there any downside to the cloud? In the next installment of this series, we’ll explore a few aspects of the cloud that could present challenges and how even those issues can be mitigated with a little planning and foresight.