That clip from the movie “Sex Tape” starring Cameron Diaz, while hilarious, is about how most people view cloud computing. There’s the file, it went to “the cloud” and now nobody knows what happened to it. Where did this all come from? One minute we were putting files on flash drives and the next minute we have a thousand different ways to store files somewhere out there in this mysterious “cloud.”
For starters, let’s clear something up: No, “the cloud” is not a literal cloud and no, your files aren’t in the sky. They are on a server somewhere in the world…probably multiple servers. They exist in a huge data center (building with lots of computers). Where is the data center? Who knows? Apple has a few, but their newest one is on a mountain in North Carolina. Amazon has several huge data centers all over the wold, three of which are in the United States, one each in Sao Paolo, Dublin, Tokyo and Singapore…and more on the way. Microsoft has several in the US alone: Virginia, Georgia, Texas, Washington, Illinois and two in Iowa. The kicker is that depending on what storage service you use, your files (data) could be at any one of these locations.
So where did the term “Cloud” come from?
Diagrams. That’s what started this whole thing. When “Network Administrators” draw up diagrams of computer networks for businesses, the connection to the “internet” is represented by a cloud icon (see below). So basically when explaining to the bosses where any internet-based item comes from, you can say “it comes in from this cloud over here.” Sort of like how email comes from the internet to your phone or home computer. You don’t really know if it came from a data center down the street, New York or Bangladesh…it just comes from the internet. So, all of the services that exist out on the internet are said to come from that cloud drawing. Since we now actually base things on the internet, they exist in the cloud…and that’s how this new technology got its name.
So how does that affect me?
It really depends on how you want to operate. Take for instance iTunes. Most people (by statistics) are using iTunes to manage their music. Apple sells more phones than any other manufacturer, and if you’re on an iPhone chances are you are using iTunes. Now, there are two ways to manage your music in iTunes: First, you can download songs to your PC/Mac and then add them to your phone by plugging it in and “synchronizing” it, or secondly, you can use Apple’s iTunes Match service to synchronize all of your music library to their “Cloud” so that all of your devices can have the same music without actually plugging anything in. (no, Apple is not paying me for this) Apple has all of your music stored in a database in North Carolina, and when you sign-in to your account on your iPhone, North Carolina sends you your music. Simple as that.
Say you have an office, you have a home office, and you travel for work too. In the old days (way back like 5 years ago), you might have to carry around a USB drive with your most important files. Now that’s no longer the case. With “cloud-based” storage you can put those important files in Dropbox, Box.com, Google Drive, OneDrive or any number of other services and have them on all of your devices at the same time. You put your new resume’ in your cloud-based folder at the office, and viola! it is magically on your phone, tablet, and laptop too!
So is that it?
Nope. That’s far from the extent of cloud-based services available. Amazon and Microsoft are expanding their offerings rapidly. You can have complete servers in the cloud now, you can manage your company’s entire email system in the cloud (no more email servers). You can do all of this by simply deciding what you no longer want to manage locally (in your office), and pick the right service provider.
…and that’s where we come in.
We can help you figure out what the best course of action is regarding your needs. Call us to day.