Sunday, November 26, 2017

What is Cloud Computing?

When your brother tells you to shut down your laptop because he is cloud computing but you consume all the already low bandwidth to play explanatory videos on YouTube about cooking instant noodle, it does not literally mean that he is going to visit a bunch of cloud and does his work from there. The term cloud is just a metaphor for a method of accessing and storing data over the Internet. Before you read further about cloud computing and feel a severe headache afterwards, it will be easier to grasp the concept by understanding its opposite first, on-premise computing.

Devices that come with internal hard drives or have compatible ports for external ones can be used for on-premise computing. You probably use such device on daily basis such as laptop, smartphone, digital audio player, and desktop computer. The hard drive stores data so you can access them easily without Internet connection for example when you view photos on a smartphone or play movies on your laptop. In both situations, the data (photos and movies) are stored on the devices’ local storage drive – microSD for the smartphone and HDD or SSD for the laptop. The data is quickly and easily accessible from your device only, unless you are connected with other computers on a local area network.

What is Cloud Computing
This guy gets the idea of cloud computing monumentally wrong
Assuming your home network connects multiple computers, you can access data originally stored from your brother’s laptop too. This is not recommended if he has a collection of explicit contents that require parental advisory, which he most likely does and you will eventually watch anyway. Connectivity at this level still counts as on-premise computing. Even if you have a dedicated NAS (Network Attached Storage) hardware at home and access data from it, you cannot say that you are cloud computing because that would be a lie.

What Constitutes Cloud Computing?

For your activity to be considered cloud computing, you need to access data over the Internet; data can be files, documents, photos, videos, images, and even programs or applications. The main reason is that that actual hard drive is not hardwired to your device and located on a different network. On the more sophisticated level, a large network consisting of dozens of computers can utilize cloud computing so users can do complex data processing and synchronize in real time.

Difference with Peer-To-Peer (P2P) Connection

With P2P, there is no dedicated server. Any computer connected in the same network can act as the server, but the network has no central storage and it lacks authentication of users. It also means that each user on the network is able to access and share files equally with others.

Cloud computing requires a central dedicated server/storage device accessible only via Internet by at least one user/client. When one user’s system crashes, the others can still access the server without a glitch. Also, the central server has a list of usernames and passwords of every authenticated user. It is possible to set up a system in which certain users have more access than others; this way, your brother can keep his collection away and safe from you and your parents.

Common Examples of Cloud Computing

Although cloud computing sounds quite sophisticated - mostly because it indeed is – even a simpleton like you can use it easily. In fact, you probably have been utilizing it for quite a while. Using emails is one of the most common examples because the actual emails are not stored in your computer but in a dedicated server owned by the provider, unless you are using POP protocol. Since you don’t know what POP protocol is, chances are you are using the cloud computing version. If you watch movies, play games, listen to music, and edit documents via Internet, then it is likely that cloud computing makes those possible. Some of the most popular cloud computing providers are as follows:

  • Google Drive: it has a complete list cloud computing services you need to edit documents, store data, and see where you are going with an online map. If you have an Android smartphone, and let us just assume you know how to use it properly, chances are you utilize a lot of the services quite often.
  • Dropbox: is stores data and syncs them across your devices.
  • Amazon Cloud Drive: it is a storage service for essentially every digital you buy from the store for examples e-books, MP3 files, and images.

There are other more complex uses of cloud computing than sending and receiving emails including but not limited to host blogs or websites, create and deploy apps through microservices, analyze data for bookkeeping purposes, store data as backup for local drive, and stream movies or music.