This week’s blog features an article “The Basics of Cloud Computing” written by Alexa Huth and James Cedula on US-Cert.gov.
What is the cloud?
“Cloud computing is receiving a great deal of attention, both in publications and among users, from individuals at home to the U.S. government. Yet it is not always clearly defined. Cloud computing is a subscription-based service where you can obtain networked storage space and computer resources. One way to think of cloud computing is to consider your experience with email. Your email client, if it is Yahoo!, Gmail, Hotmail, and so on, takes care of housing all of the hardware and software necessary to support your personal email account. When you want to access your email you open your web browser, go to the email client, and log in. The most important part of the equation is having internet access.
Your email is not housed on your physical computer; you access it through an internet connection, and you can access it anywhere. If you are on a trip, at work, or down the street getting coffee, you can check your email as long as you have access to the internet. Your email is different than software installed on your computer, such as a word processing program. When you create a document using word processing software, that document stays on the device you used to make it unless you physically move it. An email client is similar to how cloud computing works. Except instead of accessing just your email, you can choose what information you have access to within the cloud.
How can you use the cloud?
The cloud makes it possible for you to access your information from anywhere at any time. While a traditional computer setup requires you to be in the same location as your data storage device, the cloud takes away that step. The cloud removes the need for you to be in the same physical location as the hardware that stores your data. Your cloud provider can both own and house the hardware and software necessary to run your home or business applications.
This is especially helpful for businesses that cannot afford the same amount of hardware and storage space as a bigger company. Small companies can store their information in the cloud, removing the cost of purchasing and storing memory devices. Additionally, because you only need to buy the amount of storage space you will use, a business can purchase more space or reduce their subscription as their business grows or as they find they need less storage space.
One requirement is that you need to have an internet connection in order to access the cloud. This means that if you want to look at a specific document you have housed in the cloud, you must first establish an internet connection either through a wireless or wired internet or a mobile broadband connection. The benefit is that you can access that same document from wherever you are with any device that can access the internet. These devices could be a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone.
This can also help your business to function more smoothly because anyone who can connect to the internet and your cloud can work on documents, access software, and store data. Imagine picking up your smartphone and downloading a .pdf document to review instead of having to stop by the office to print it or upload it to your laptop. This is the freedom that the cloud can provide for you or your organization.”
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