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What is Cloud Storage?

If you are like a lot of people today you may be wondering what in the world is cloud storage?

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If you are like a lot of people today you may be wondering what in the world is cloud storage? Aren't clouds those white fluffy things floating around in the sky? While this is true when talking about the weather, it could not be further from the truth when you are talking about cloud computing. When talking about computer storage the cloud is a virtual environment where information is stored on multiple connected servers. The phrase "cloud" comes from the early days of the internet, as early as 1994 a cloud was used to illustrate the internet.


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Cloud Computing Basics

The simplest explanation of cloud computing is the storage and access of data via the internet rather than saving it to a computer hard drive or dedicated server. How is it different from hard drive storage or dedicated servers? For starters your data is less vulnerable to failures when you utilize cloud computing.

Computer hard drives serve a purpose, they are necessary for containing your operating system and storing all the programs your business requires. They also can and do provide you a place to store files, databases and correspondence, but keeping it all in house can be risky. What happens if your hard drive fails?

Since hard drives do fail on occasion many companies have turned to on and off site servers. These are basically huge banks of professionally maintained storage devices. This means all your data is sent and secured in one dedicated location. As you can imagine this is better than the typical hard drive storage solution, but it can be limiting and if your dedicated server goes down your information goes with it and even if it is temporary that can be very damaging to business.

Cloud computing offers better reliability because it is spread out over several servers. If one of the connected servers has a hardware or connectivity problem, you are still going strong because the rest of the servers take up the slack. It is also easier to scale your business; do you suddenly find you are in need of extra storage? Add to this the fact that your information is accessible from nearly any place in the world and it is easy to see why it is quickly gaining popularity.

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Cloud Computing Examples

Who is using cloud-computing services today? A recent survey of 572 business leaders showed that three fourths are utilizing the cloud in some capacity and those who expect to substantially implement it in the next three years will go from the current 13% to 41%. Experts in the field suggest this is just the tip of the iceberg, and in going forward businesses are going to recognize the full potential of cloud based computing. Examples:

Spikes: Many businesses deal with spikes, particularly online video providers. Cloud computing offers an easy to implement system capable of dealing with short and long term spikes.

Collaboration: The cloud better facilitates external collaboration by offering cloud-based tools that are intuitive and familiar. For example, outlook and Microsoft word are both adding cloud features.

Customization: Since you have more computing power as well as capacity, it is easier to store user preferences and more simply customize a product or service. A good example of this capability is Siri, Apple's virtual assistant.

Complexity: Are you ready to improve your business, but it requires more complexity? Many businesses will shy away from this scenario because doing so requires educating the end user. Cloud computing allows you to increase your complexity but masks it from the end user, leaving your services or product available to the same pool of customers.

Final Thoughts

Cloud computing and storage can make a huge difference not only in the efficiency of your business model but also in the cost of infrastructure. This type of storage and management offers a low cost solution for new businesses and a way to increase productivity for well-established companies. Cloud computing, in a nutshell, is a game changer across the board.