What is the cloud?
I have been asked this question by friends and clients alike. The answer is simple and a bit
complicated at the same time, from a hardware standpoint. So, lets break it down. The name comes
from the concept of Cloud Computing. This concept was best described by Linus from Linus’ Tech Tips;
“In the same way that a normal cloud is a dense cluster of water molecules that appears as a single
object from distance; a computing cloud, is a dense cluster of computers working together in such a way
that to a normal observer; it appears to be one giant computing resource. Essentially the “cloud” is just
rented hard drive space on someone else’s computer or datacenter. While this is the quickest and least
technical answer for your average “non-techie”, there are a lot of reasons the cloud is becoming such a
prevalent technology in business today.
With cloud storage, your data is stored at large Data Centers where it is split
over multiple hard drives. This is done to provide easily recoverable information in the event a single
hard drive fails. Without heavily going into the concepts of RAID (redundant array of independent
disks) storage, this is RAID employed on a massive scale. These data centers also employ ethernet and
power redundancy. In the event of a total blackout of a site, your data is typically backed up at another
location elsewhere in the world, at a place known as failover site. If one site goes down, the other
seamlessly picks up where the first left off; providing customers a seemingly flawless experience with
zero data loss. For a low monthly fee, customers can safely store their information, contacts, photos,
documents, web pages and more. All of this is done without needing to employ costly hardware and IT
services to maintain and manage your personal or company data.
The future of cloud computing is very exciting and includes concepts
like “Cloud Gaming”. Users can rent gaming hardware over the ethernet to play the newest and
best games on the market without having to purchase expensive gaming components for their PCs. A
user could temporarily increase their cloud plan to give themselves a bit more gusto to play the latest
AAA title. With this concept you could even be running software, that isn’t installed on your PC, directly
from the cloud. A lot of tech schools are moving to this technology, to teach computing concepts via
online programs. Students can login and utilize cloud resources like virtual machines for learning
One of the most prevalent technologies I see companies moving towards is Office
365. Microsoft has offered a full suite of cloud computing products to help with everyday business
productivity. SharePoint being one of the best ways employees can quickly access and share data
between departments at large firms, privately, securely and without worry. Their custom plans can be
tailored towards your budget, goals and company size. Their online email exchange is quickly replacing
the typical onsite email server of the past with ease of use, and cost efficiency.
In conclusion, while the cloud can seem like an unfamiliar, scary new technology; understanding
it’s basic concepts can allow you to see how beneficial it can be. I for one am excited to see where the
future of cloud computing can take us. Contact AVATAR Computing today and see how Office 365 can
improve your business workflow.
By: David Markey