So what really is the cloud?

It seems like no matter where you go, the “cloud” is following you around. I’m not talking metaphorically, as in dark thoughts, bad moods or even inclement weather, but as in technology. Before we can truly enter “cloud nine” and bounce about this figurative sky, let’s bring things back to Earth and take a critical look at the fundamentals of the cloud.

Starting from the top, literally, what is the cloud? While opinions and definitions might vary, at the core of things there seems to be a reoccurring theme.

The history of data centers dates back to the 1940’s in correlation with the invention of computers. Fast forward to the late 90’s and early 00’s and we find ourselves in the heart of the DOTCOM boom. Before this bubble, data center services wouldn’t have been available to mere civilians, or small startup companies. Today all business owners have this on demand, with the click of a few buttons and a credit card. Bottom line, it was too cost prohibitive with an exception to those who had the expense accounts to furnish the impeccable environments. I consider this era to be the true birth of what is now evolving to be modern day data centers, as we witnessed an exponential growth in the data centers and internet capabilities as a whole.

So now we know where and possibly why data centers are intertwined with our modern day lives, let’s see if we can breakdown, how data centers have been, are currently, and will be a focal point of generations to come.

For those of you who are unaware, data centers are essential to the lives we live today. Too much of our day to day activities depend on technology to be accessible and functioning. Take for example, public transit, personal and business banking, social networks and the examples go on. If there were to be a minor interruption in services on any of the above mentioned, or a catastrophic disaster, our lives would be dramatically impacted. Data centers provide a layer of redundancy to a few pivotal areas that allow these systems to stay functioning. Internet connectivity, electricity and air conditioning are equivalent to the life of computers as food, shelter and water is to humans. Simply put, without a harmony of the three, neither computers or humans would exist.

I’m not going to downplay the complexity and ingenuity behind this fascinating technology, but I will attempt to explain it in such a manner that everyone can relate too. To start things off, I’d like to address a misnomer of sorts that enthralls me every time I hear the misconception. Yes, you might have your data stored in the cloud, but all that means is you have physical storage on a hard drive located somewhere that is presumably in a data center. Without getting too far ahead of myself, we might’ve actually knocked out two birds with one stone.

For example, let’s use cloud storage, pick whichever provider comes to mind. If you use this service to store things like files or photos, you are simply opting to store them on a server elsewhere in the world. Where in the world, you might ask? Your guess is as good as mine. Consumers have elected to use these services because it provides a magnitude of protection and benefits they couldn’t normally achieve at the given fiscal constraints. Hopefully you are aware of the risk of cyber-attack in today’s internet landscape. By having “cloud” back-ups of data that would otherwise be locally stored, you are in a way, thwarting the damage of attack that could cause potential loss or damage (or theft). Aside from the cyber threat, cloud storage also draws attraction as it allows end users the convenience to access the files and data often through a web browser.

While it’s apparent that there is a plethora of cloud providers to choose from, make no mistake. Not all clouds are created equal, and the cloud isn’t always the best choice for certain use cases. If your business is considering transitioning to a cloud based solution, be sure to examine the pros/cons and the cost factors that separate the providers. For more information or questions regarding data centers and the cloud, feel free to reach out to the neGma team.