techtalk – #8 cloud computing

Pop quiz: Where did all data “live” once upon a time? - Answer: On servers and inside computers.

And now? Well, some of it hasn’t moved, but a pretty large chunk now resides in that magical (and mechanical) place known as The Cloud.

The cloud stores zillions of droplets of data and runs programs using the internet (as opposed to the hard drive on a computer, for instance).

Information is housed in physical or virtual servers, which are managed and controlled by a cloud computing provider.

There are three types of cloud:

  • Private Cloud – where only authorized people can access confidential data, which is usually stored “in-house”
  • Public Cloud – where data is stored in a shared environment
  • Hybrid Cloud – a combination of the above

Why is cloud computing such an important technological advancement in our modern digital world?

First and foremost, it provides unlimited storage capacity, essential for today’s rapidly multiplying data.

The cloud is agile in the sense that it can effortlessly keep up and align with evolving business and market changes, offering competitive advantages to the fastest movers.

Then there’s scalability. Imagine that tens of thousands of visitors suddenly start using your web app one Sunday morning. The risk? The app crashes as it can’t handle the traffic. Result? You disappoint and potentially lose customers. Who you gonna call? (hint: not the Ghostbusters). More likely a cloud hoster!

Scalability in this case means IT infrastructure can be expanded when needed to improve performance and meet demand.

Peace of mind is worth its weight in gold for potential data crashes thanks to pre-configured disaster recovery plans that activate automatically if needed.

Mobility is also one of the main benefits (and often non-negotiable requirements these days!), with users able to access data 24/7 from any mobile device.

And then there’s the biggie: reduced costs. As everything is done in the cloud, there is no need for expensive devices and software, not to mention the often inevitable repair and maintenance expenditures.

You only pay for what you use in the cloud, which is certainly excellent news for small businesses that wouldn’t previously have had the budget for large data storage. Now, however, they have the processing power and storage capacity once only accessible to larger organizations.

Data security breaches are perhaps the primary cause for concern, but encryption (all data in the cloud is encrypted) and virtual firewalls help combat this.

To maximize cloud storage security, it is often recommended you encrypt your data yourself before uploading it to the cloud. Then, whenever you want to open any of the files, you simply decrypt it.

Head still in the clouds about cloud computing? Already storing stuff in the cloud? Share your questions or tips with us!

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