Published on September 15th, 2012 | by Sid3
Basics of Cloud Computing
Ever since the iCloud commercials have been aired on television I have had a lot of friends come up to me asking, “What exactly is this cloud and cloud computing?”. So I decided to write an article explaining the basics of cloud computing (at least my understanding of it) and how it works.
Wikipedia defines cloud computing as:
“Cloud computing is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet).”
Let me see if I can simplify that definition a little. Cloud computing basically lets us use files and applications over the net i.e., it uses the internet and central servers to maintain your data and applications. As you all know, just buying a computer isn’t enough. We also need to buy software and install the disk on our computers (or download it via a torrent client), all we need to do is use the software and data we need that has been stored in the cloud. And the best thing about cloud computing is that all you need to access the cloud is a computer and an Internet connection (a working one).
There is a good chance many of us have come across cloud computing without realizing it. I am pretty sure all of us have e-mail accounts and have used e-mail services via Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail etc. If you have, then you already have had some experience with cloud computing. Let me explain how with an example. We don’t have an e-mail program on our computers (maybe a link to the website which provides the service or a shortcut but definitely not a program). We just open the website, type in our e-mail id and password, hit enter and voila! We have a list of all our sent and received e-mails. But where exactly did all this data come from? If I were to search all the files on my computer I’m sure I would not find these mails stored anywhere in the memory. Then where did they come from? The answer is simple: All this data was stored online on the e-mail service’s remote server; in other words, on the e-mail service’s computer cloud.
Some people have been touting cloud computing as the next big thing. There are a lot of advantages of using cloud computing, but as with any technology, cloud computing also has its cons. These are a few advantages of using cloud computing:
- Accessibility: The user has access to a large amount of applications without having to download or install anything.
- Cost and time efficient: Users don’t have to spend money on buying software and then spend time on upgrading the software whenever an update is available.
- Elastic: The user can have as much or as little of a service that they need or want at a particular point of time.
- Fully managed by the provider: All the user needs to access the cloud storage is a computer with an Internet connection (mind you, it needs to be a working connection).
- Backup and Restoring data: Since all your data is stored in the cloud, backing up and restoring the data is much easier than storing the data on a physical device. Also most cloud providers are competent enough to handle the recovery of information.
Any advantage list is incomplete without a list of all the disadvantages which is as given below:
- Lack of control: When you store any data in the cloud you are surrendering all your data to a third-party cloud service provider. The entire responsibility and control of your data is in the hands of the cloud service provider which makes the users very dependent on the cloud service provider. How do you know that all of your data will be invisible to other users? What happens if your cloud provider goes out of service?
- Security issues: Storing information in the cloud is also dangerous because your data could get hacked from the server and could be used for evil.
Personally I feel that cloud computing is very useful (like how we use it for storing all our e-mails) and I wouldn’t mind storing some of my data and using applications that are stored in the cloud. Though I definitely wouldn’t store any of my private data there. It is too risky and maybe this is just me, but I prefer to keep my private data, well, private.