What is the Cloud?

Cloud Computing simply means storing and/or accessing data programs over the internet instead of locally on your computer’s hard drive. The three terms you may hear associated with Cloud are:

(SaaS) Software as a Service – Software as a service is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. (definition by: wikipedia.org)

(PaaS) Platform as a Service – Platform as a service is a category of cloud computing services that provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run, and manage applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app (definition by: wikipedia.org)

(Iaas) Infrastructure as a Service – Cloud computing, also known as on-the-line computing, is a kind of Internet-based computing that provides shared processing resources and data to computers and other devices on-demand (definition by: wikipedia.org)

Some obvious examples of Cloud Storage that are used today include iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox. These are all services that offer you offsite storage. However, these only make up a fraction of the services we use regularly that rely on cloud computing. Streaming sites, such as Netflix use cloud technology to grant customers access to files. None of these files are actually present on the device you use to stream them. Have you ever ordered a video on demand at your home? If the answer is yes; then you are using cloud technology.

In addition, most people are using some form of social media today including LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter (to name a few). These sites are also run using cloud technology. These, and other sites allow you to access past posts that are not saved to your device. Similarly, any service that allows you to access information through their service is probably using the cloud in one way or another. E-mail, for example, has used cloud technology for years allowing the user to gain access to all of their messages from any location. When a person logs into their email, they are accessing the data through some offsite storage provided by the email provider.

Although many people think Cloud technology is new; it actually started in the fifties with mainframe computers. In the sixties, it evolved and was used by governments to build reliable communications networks. In the seventies, virtual machines evolved and drove the technology to the next level.

However, since the internet only started to offer significant bandwidth (speed) in the nineties, cloud computing for the general public only started to really be used regularly since then.

Some of the milestones in the history of cloud computing include the launch of Salesforce in 1999, Amazon Web Services in 2002, Linked-In in 2003, Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006, DropBox in 2008, Google started offering browser-based applications in 2009 and I Cloud was introduced in 2011. The explosion of cloud-based applications and services continues to develop at an alarming rate.

Ultimately, the cloud is used in any service that allows you to see information whether or not it has been saved locally. Without the use of cloud storage and cloud technology; all of our devices would run out of space very quickly. Also, the cost of purchasing and installing (or downloading) programs including transferring programs to new computers would be astronomical.  Thanks to the cloud, we can use the services that we enjoy daily without having to invest in huge hardware costs and we can reduce the amount of money spent on IT professionals.