Before we dig further into how does cloud computing work, first let’s understand what the term “cloud” refers to. The concept of the cloud has been around for a long time in many different incarnations in the business world. It mostly means a grid of computers serving as a service-oriented architecture to deliver software and data.
Most websites and server-based applications run on particular computers or servers. What differentiates the cloud from the way those are set up is that the cloud utilizes the resources from the computers as a collective virtual computer, where the applications can run independently from particular computer or server configurations. They are basically floating around in a “cloud of resources”, making the hardware less important to how the applications work.
With broadband internet, the need to have the software run on your computer or on a company’s site is becoming less and less essential. A lot of the software that people use nowadays are completely web-based. The cloud takes advantage of that to bring it to the next level.
For example, if you are hosting your website on a local server or from your PC, you must usually select a particular operating system (Windows/Linux/Mac), to determine what software you can run on that particular server. If your site is being hosted in the cloud, there is no need to do that. You can run Windows and Linux programs side by side.
How is that done?
To understand how does cloud computing work, imagine that the cloud consists of layers — mostly the back-end layers and the front-end or user-end layers. The front-end layers are the ones you see and interact with. When you access your email on Gmail for example, you are using software running on the front-end of a cloud. The same is true when you access your Facebook account. The back-end consists of the hardware and the software architecture that fuels the interface you see on the front end.
Because the computers are set up to work together, the applications can take advantage of all that computing power as if they were running on one particular machine. Cloud computing also allows for a lot of flexibility. Depending on the demand, you can increase how much of the cloud resources you use without the need for assigning specific hardware for the job, or just reduce the amount of resources assigned to you when they are not necessary.
Will it change the way we use computers?
The transition from being very ‘personal hardware dependent’ to a world where resources are shared among the masses is creeping up on us slowly and unobtrusively. Very many people have already transitioned to using a cloud environment for most of their time in front of the computer without even realizing it.
Sure, most of us still use some version of Microsoft Office or Quickbooks that was installed on our computers, but even those kinds of software are now offering an online version that can be used instead. The possibility of being able to access your data and software wherever you need it makes this transition very appealing to most people.
Are there problems with this concept? Of course there are. If for some reason your internet goes down, your access to your data also disappears. There are security concerns with the data and the risk that companies will use proprietary formats for the files and that require that you pay for a certain service monthly or you may lose access to your own data permanently.
So choose wisely when picking a service to use with your important data and make sure it can be downloaded if needed, but also enjoy the flexibility those services provide. The wave of the future is in the clouds”¦
What cloud services are currently part of your life?
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