Intro to the Cloud 101: Understanding What the Cloud Actually Is

As we spend the month of April “in the cloud” we feel it is important to help our readers understand the basics of what the cloud really is. The average person grasps the concept of the cloud, but doesn’t really understand the technology behind it. If you want to know how you can put the cloud to work for your business, you need to know the fundamentals about this popular technology and how it can work for you.

What Exactly Is the Cloud?

The first concept one must grasp is that the cloud isn’t actually a physical thing. More importantly, it is definitely not a fluffy white server in the sky. The cloud is actually a network of servers, with each server performing a different function. Some servers are used to deliver a service or run an application while other servers are used to host websites or perform other tasks. Let’s take Adobe for example. Recently the company moved its creative services to the cloud. No longer is the Adobe Creative Suite available in a box. If you want to utilize Adobe’s creative software, you need to pay a monthly fee to access each individual service via Adobe’s “Create Cloud” and access your software from there. Adobe is a great example of a cloud service that offers an application. However, software and applications are not the only thing using the cloud. Let’s take Instagram as another example. Instagram is an example of a network within the cloud that offers the storage of data or, more specifically, photographs. When you take a picture with your phone, that photo is stored on your phone’s memory drive. However, the moment you upload that photo to Instagram, you are not storing the photo in the cloud. So to answer the question, what exactly is the cloud, the easiest way to explain it is that the cloud is a network of servers, with each server having its own function. Some servers, such as Adobe’s, provide a service. Other servers, such as Instagram, allow you to store and access files that you save to the server.

Cloud Security

Now that you know what the cloud is and what it does, you may be wondering just how secure it is. For example, if you are going to be storing sensitive files in a cloud service such as DropBox, you may be wondering just how secure those files will be in the cloud. The fact is that the cloud does have some security issues. Some of the risqué and embarrassing celebrity videos that have hit the Web have done so via the cloud. However, the cloud does indeed have security measures in place to prevent such things from happening and security is getting stronger by the day. With that being said, however, if you do use the cloud for sensitive information, you’ll want to make sure you use a service that encrypts your data so that it can’t be easily accessed by prying eyes.

Putting the Cloud to Work for You

Now that you know what cloud website hosting is, what the cloud is, and how it works, you are probably wondering whether or not you should be using the cloud to host your applications or website. Next week we will be discussing the benefits of cloud-based website hosting, the reliability of the cloud, and how the cloud may be able to help you with your dreaded downtime issues.