A Dummies Guide to The Cloud

I am going to start off this post being completely honest. Up until about 2 weeks ago I had absolutely no idea what “the cloud” was. All I knew was that this cloud figure existed.

I could not have told you the slightest bit of information as to what the cloud is, or what it does. I thought everything I did on my phone was transferred to binary numbers. From the pictures I took to the apps I downloaded, it was all shot out as waves which were pinging off satellites orbiting Earth and returning back to my phone. Little did I know I was completely wrong (also, please do not judge me if you a physicists). So, long story short, if this too is what you thought of the cloud, completely erase that understanding from your brain.


What is the cloud?

The cloud is a network of servers where each server has a different function. Some may use computing power to run applications or deliver a service, whereas other servers are responsible for storing data.

“[The cloud is] stuff that appears to be running on your PC, phone or any other computer device, but is actually running over the internet using an array of computers that are sharing resources with each other.”

For example, when you take a picture on your phone, that picture is stored in your phone’s internal memory drive. However, when you upload any of these pictures to a platform such as Instagram or Facebook, you are now storing it in the cloud.

Cloud computing simply means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of on your computer’s hard drive.


Why call it the cloud?

The data being stored in our hard drive, is being stored in something that we can physically see. Whether it be sitting underneath your monitor, or in your laptop, it is still an object which we can touch.

“In the same way a normal cloud is a dense cluster of water molecules which appears as a single object from a distance. A computing cloud is a dense cluster of computers working together in such a way that to a normal observer, all appear to be working as one giant computer resource.”

Data that is being stored in the cloud, is too being stored in a hard drive, however this hard drive could be located over seas or cross country. To the normal computer user, we are not too sure as to where this hard drive that holds all of our data is located, but we know that it is there. This is why we call use the analogy of the cloud — it is easier to draw a cloud on a visual diagram, then it would be to visually represent how many nodes are connected on the internet.


Cloud Based Services.

More and more brand names are transferring over their services to the cloud and re-branding themselves. This is to make it more easily accessible for other small business and individuals to continuously have access to their work. Below I have outlined some of the few cloud based services;

Adobe Creative Cloud. Adobe has recently moved their creative services to the cloud, meaning that now you no longer need to buy the Creative Suite in a box set. Instead you now pay a monthly subscripting to use each individual service. This not only provides a more cost effective service to businesses and individuals, but it also allows for multiple people to work on the same project rather it be from home or from work.

Google Drive. Google Drive is a pure cloud computing service, in which all your storage is done online via Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google slides. Not only is Google Drive available on desktop computers, but it is also available on tablets such as the iPad or on smartphones. Before a service such as Google Drive existed, you would have to save your document onto your hard drive, then e-mail it to yourself or put it on a USB in order to use the document on another device. However, now with Google Drive all your documents can be found in one place!

Office Online. Microsoft offers this set of web-based apps, which are Internet only versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. If you want to access your documents or media files, Office Online offers simple accessibility from the Web. Data such as documents, photos, videos or music can be accessed from devices such as computers and mobiles.

For those of you who had no understanding about the cloud (such as myself) I do hope this ‘Dummies Guide’ has provided somewhat of a ‘clearer’ explanation to the cloud. As for you computer wiz’s out there, please try not to beat down my explanation of the cloud too much. I mean, this is my first time learning about it’s functionality, so cut me some slack!