It seems unfathomable, but computers in the 1950s were a far cry from the slick and portable machines we depend on today. With the concept of the personal computer years away from coming to fruition, clunky mainframes (that’s what they used to call computers) occupied entire rooms in schools and large corporations [paywall]. Given the size and cost of these monstrosities, mainframe users often shared access to data through smaller stations around the office. Though no one called it by name at the time, this type of networking was laying the groundwork for what we refer to today as “cloud computing.”
The “cloud” is one of those buzzwords that everyone hears, but few actually understand what it really means. We all know it has something to do with computers, and that it sounds techy and cool, but the knowledge stops there for most people. We’re here today to demystify the cloud and help you understand exactly how it works. And what you should know about it.
How the cloud works
One of the biggest misconceptions about the cloud is that some people assume it’s a tangible thing. The powerful servers that make up the cloud are, yes, but the actual cloud just exists all around us. Kind of like the clouds in the sky. Using the cloud basically means you’re relying on those servers to migrate data to and from your device. It happens over the internet instead of locally on your computer or phone.
For example, if you take a picture of a sunset with your phone, that photo lives within the storage of your phone. It occupies digital space, and if you delete it, you can free up that space to replace it with something else. But let’s say you upload that photo to a social media site or email it to your sister. It now lives in the cloud and is accessible from your sister’s computer or any other device. There are data centers around the world housing the servers that make cloud computing possible.
Business benefits to using the cloud
Once upon a time, companies would have to purchase the servers their business required and house them in their own office. This type of hardware is expensive and cumbersome to use. It also requires an inordinate amount of maintenance.
Instead, app and software developers use cloud storage with backup capabilities. In the event of a server outage, the data is safe. Cloud storage offers data reliability that desktop computing can’t compete with.
To learn more about automation and the benefits of using the cloud, click here!
End-user benefits to using the cloud
That type of financial and operational relief is certainly beneficial for the company, but what about you as an end-user? One of the most significant advantages is speed. Because these apps and software programs live within the robust servers of the cloud, they tend to run faster. That means less of a lag or latency when you’re trying to upload photos or play games.
Software housed in the cloud can also push updates instantaneously over the web. If your inventory software is mistakenly adding an extra unit to the count of each product, prioritize this. Solutions that aren’t cloud-based require manual intervention via download, whereas cloud-based patches take place behind the scenes seamlessly.
We also can’t stress enough how beneficial it is that cloud-based data is available from any internet-connected device. This type of accessibility is particularly important for businesses with technicians. Or employees that work in the field or remotely from home. It eliminates having to carry bulky files, software discs or extra computers with you while traveling.
Despite the fact that data breaches still make headlines in the news, cloud computing is also generally safe for end-users. In many cases, the companies that host the data are much larger than the companies that utilize the space. As a result, the servers typically have more sophisticated security systems in place than an individual company would offer.
Lastly, more programs on the cloud means your computer will likely run faster and more efficiently. Computers that aren’t bogged down with local activity will often boot up quicker and function smoother.