Is Your Head in the Clouds...How About Your Storage and Computing?

Once Upon a Time everything you worked on was stored locally. In other words, it was stored on your computer. If you wanted to share, it you would “sneakernet” it over to them - put it on a floppy disk (what we had before flash drives), and walk it over to the person you wanted to give it to. In extreme cases, you might have sent it via interoffice or postal mail.

In time people started emailing documents and other file formats to each other, hoping that the person they sent it to had the right tool or software to open those files. If you worked for a company, you might have stored it out on the shared network drive you had access to - again hoping that the person you needed to share with also had access (and knew how to get to) that same network drive/server. In this case, the word “network” referred to a machine somewhere in your company's building where everybody would store files that would hopefully get backed up routinely and be accessible to your co-workers. There was a lot of expense tied to those solutions - for the devices the files were stored on, for the room to store the devices, and for the people who kept those devices working. It was no small feat and cost quite a lot. But, it was the cost of doing business.

Storage in the Cloud

Storage in the Cloud

Today everyone is mad about the cloud, and for a lot of people, this is just another buzzword that they’ve heard, and so now they are using it too. The cloud gets talked about a lot in meetings; when it’s mentioned people tend to vaguely point or wave a hand over their heads, and on white boards they draw a puffy, white cumulus cloud with arrows in and out to indicate “cloud storage/computing” connections. But what does that really mean?

In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of from your computer's hard drive or your company’s network. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet.

 Here are just a few of the things you can do with cloud services:

  • Analyze data for patterns and make predictions
  • Create new apps/services and make them available to users anywhere at any time
  • Deliver software on demand
  • Host websites and blogs
  • Quickly scale service up and down as traffic demands
  • Store, backup, and recover data
  • Stream audio and video

Cloud Storage and Computing Benefits

Cloud storage and computing can provide the benefits of greater accessibility and reliability; rapid deployment; strong protection for data backup, archival, and disaster recovery purposes; and lower overall storage costs as a result of not having to purchase, manage and maintain expensive hardware. A greater number of customers also use cloud solutions for DevOps as a capital cost-cutting measure. They can just “spin up” the resources for the duration of the project and then spin them down when it ends.

Tell Me More About: Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is a service model in which data is maintained, managed, and backed up on remote servers accessed from the Internet. Those servers are maintained, operated, and managed by a cloud storage service provider that are built using virtualization techniques and include built-in security capabilities, such as encryption and authentication. Really good providers provide co-location services, meaning that the data is stored in multiple locations, which keeps it available even when part of the system is not available (also referred to as “down”) due to power outages, maintenance, etc. Users generally pay for their cloud data storage on a per-consumption, monthly rate.

Common cloud storage use cases

The most common use cases are cloud backup, disaster recovery, and archiving infrequently accessed data.

Tell Me More About: Cloud Computing

In the simplest terms, cloud computing refers to storing and accessing data  (cloud storage) and programs over the Internet instead of your computer's hard drive.

Examples of Cloud Computing


Some examples of cloud computing you're probably already using:

  • Google Drive: This is a pure cloud computing service, with all the storage found online so it can work with the cloud apps: Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. Drive is also available on more than just desktop computers; you can use it on tablets like the iPad or on smartphones, and there are separate apps for Docs and Sheets, as well. In fact, most of Google's services could be considered cloud computing: Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, and so on.
  • Apple iCloud: Apple's cloud service is primarily used for online storage, backup, and synchronization of your mail, contacts, calendar, and more. All the data you need is available to you on your iOS, Mac OS, or Windows device (Windows users have to install the iCloud control panel). Naturally, Apple won't be outdone by rivals: it offers cloud-based versions of its word processor (Pages), spreadsheet (Numbers), and presentations (Keynote) for use by any iCloud subscriber. iCloud is also the place iPhone users go to utilize the Find My iPhone feature that's all important when the handset goes missing.
  • Amazon Cloud Drive: Storage at the big retailer is mainly for music, preferably MP3s that you purchase from Amazon, and images—if you have Amazon Prime, you get unlimited image storage. Amazon Cloud Drive also holds anything you buy for the Kindle. It's essentially storage for anything digital you'd buy from Amazon, baked into all its products and services.

For a set up to be considered "cloud computing," you need to access your data and/or your programs over the Internet. In a big business, you may know all there is to know about what's on the other side of the connection; as an individual user, you may never have any idea what kind of massive data processing is happening on the other end. The end result is the same: with an online connection, cloud computing can be done anywhere, anytime.

Hybrid services like Box, Dropbox, and SugarSync all say they work in the cloud because they store a synced version of your files online, but they also sync those files with local storage. Synchronization is a cornerstone of the cloud computing experience, even if you do access the file locally.

Common Cloud Service Models

Cloud services are typically deployed based on the end-user (business) requirements. The primary services include the following:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS) - A software delivery method that provides access to software and its functions remotely as a Web-based service. Software as a Service allows organizations to access business functionality at a cost typically less than paying for licensed applications since SaaS pricing is based on a monthly fee.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) - A computing platform being delivered as a service. Here the platform is outsourced in place of a company or data center purchasing and managing their own hardware and software layers.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) - A computer infrastructure, such as virtualization, being delivered as a service. IaaS is popular in the data center where software and servers are purchased as a fully outsourced service and usually billed on usage and how much of the resource is used.


Ready to learn more? Here’s a listing of cloud storage and computing terms: