Cloudy Days Ahead

“It’s just a lot of computers communicating over the internet”

What’s that up in the sky? A bird? A plane? Oh, it’s just our data. Our data lies within the ever-so-figurative clouds above us. Has technology replaced dust particles in the atmosphere? No. Let me explain…

Cloud computing services are nothing but servers chatting it up through the internet. That’s it. So, instead of storing pictures of your Sunday brunch and all-nighter essays on your computer’s hard-drive, you can save room and store it on another one (e.g. Dropbox, Google Docs, Gmail).

Whether you are binge-watching an entire season of The Office on Netflix, or downloading a new app, you are using the Cloud. Major companies, like Netflix and Apple, use Amazon Web Services. AWS is a public cloud service that holds about half of the market. However, Microsoft has introduced a new Cloud provider, which many companies are adopting — called Azure. Azure is catered towards enterprises and offers a pay-as-you-go model as well as highly-credible security measures. Being the only other single company to threaten Amazon’s cloud market, Amazon’s eyes have glanced up for the first time ever.

A cloud is a beautiful thing — symbolically and literally — because it lets companies have their infrastructure without having to spend tons of money on it (a company’s worst nightmare). The only downside is that you won’t be able to maintenance it… control-freaks beware. It’s not that you are bad at maintaining your own servers, but that big companies probably have more money, security, and experience than you. I’m sorry you had to find out like this.

Get to know these three guys: PaaS (Platform as a Service), IaaS (Internet as a Service), and SaaS (Software as a Service). These are called “service models” and they are all part of the mythical Cloud (not actually magic, just tech). SaaS is a piece of software that runs on a webpage — the programs I mentioned above (throwback to Dropbox, Google Docs, and Gmail) are examples of this. You just need internet, and SaaS can become your very own playground. IaaS and PaaS are a little more complicated, so let’s use a completely unoriginal analogy: building a house. For PaaS, you would get the tools to build your house according to a ready-made design. For IaaS, you would get the tools to build your house according to your own design… control-freaks, you can breathe now.

If you have ever seen a bunch of enormous machines stacked up against each other in a big, scary room… calm down, it’s just a data center. A data center is where they store all of your wonderful information. So, what seems like a magical Cloud is actually just a manmade piece of hardware (the most simplistic definition I can give you). In the future, there will be bigger and scarier data centers, but less of them around. So, they will stack, not spread.

So, go watch your fourth season of Gossip Girl. Go download that Kanye West album you’ve been patiently waiting for. Do whatever you want, but don’t try to run from the cloud. It’s everywhere.