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In today’s day and age, it seems impossible to avoid “The Cloud” — whether it is in your professional life where you hear of general enterprise strategies of “getting to the cloud” or your personal life where you can’t get through a sports game without seeing an AWS or Azure commercial. What you may not know is that “The Cloud” is actually many places around you that you may not realize — “The Cloud” is potentially being used at your banks, your grocery store, your local government, and maybe even your utility company, as an example. Despite being a common term, there is still a lot of fog around the definition of “The Cloud” and many of the following questions typically arise:
- What is “The Cloud”?
- Where is “The Cloud”?
- Is “The Cloud” just for Fortune 100 companies?
- Why should consumers care about “The Cloud”?
The Cloud — What is it?
“The Cloud” is simply defined to be software and services that run on the Internet as opposed to on your local computer or at your company’s data center. In this way, you (or your company) are not required to maintain the physical hardware necessary to complete your tasks. As I’m sure you would guess, there is still hardware necessary somewhere to accomplish this feat — and you are correct.
Over time, there were many instances of companies hosting information for others, but “The Cloud” in its present state was vastly accelerated by large corporations renting out extra hardware for storage and processing power. With the rise in popularity, multiple large corporations (namely Amazon, Google and Microsoft), have invested heavily in their cloud infrastructure and their respective cloud platforms/offerings have matured at an exponential rate. This cloud infrastructure is dispersed across many data centers throughout world and is typically categorized into particular regions by the cloud provider. These facilities are extremely high security and in most cases are not publicly disclosed. In it’s current state these facilities comprising “The Cloud” offer many tiers of services ranging from “bare metal” machines to fully managed databases or storage solutions.
In other words, “The Cloud” is a versatile tool that may be used by individuals and businesses alike to perform storage or processing tasks. The flexibility of the cloud allows for usage by experts who may build and manage their solutions from scratch to novices who may leverage existing templates or managed services to create a solution. These solutions can range from a simple webpage or notification system for a small business to an entire enterprise grade call center or machine-learning chatbot.
The Cloud — Why should I care?
“The Cloud” has enabled a new scale of scalability, versatility, efficiency, reliability and most importantly accessibility to a virtually unlimited amount of storage and compute power for businesses. This has resulted in an exponential increase in the agility and innovation of many markets that have began to utilize “The Cloud”. The ability to have virtually unlimited resources available at the “click of a button”, businesses are able to rapidly test and deploy innovative solutions and are able to respond quickly to any issues or changes in consumer behavior. Similarly, businesses are able to modify quantities of their purchased resources dynamically based on usage — such as a business scaling their website to handle Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping.
As a consumer, you can see many of these benefits in areas such as the speed to market of many products and services, technological innovation in provided services, increased reliability/speed of web services, potentially decreased prices due to cloud cost savings and overall technical advances in many consumer markets. Many of these items may be overlooked by an innocent bystander, but just think that any of the following may have been enabled by the cloud:
- Your credit card company detecting and rejecting fraudulent charges on your credit card.
- Your utility company releasing a new website to enable better online servicing, or releasing any necessary fixes to that website in minutes.
- Your contacts and photos being recoverable after accidentally jumping into a lake with your phone.
- Your social media account recommending a perfect holiday gift for your mother after repeated fruitless searches online.
- Your ability to minimize your time in the cold waiting for a bus due to real-time location tracking.
- Your ability to make Cyber Monday purchases along with 1M other consumers without the website lagging or crashing.
- Your insurance companies accepting multiple claims withing a day of your online submission of the claim and receipts (without any physical mail!)
As you can see “The Cloud” has been applied to many real-life scenarios already and has the potential to be applied in many more. Innovation and advancement will only continue to better our lives and customer experiences!
The Cloud — What did I just read?
As you have seen, “The Cloud” is driving many aspects of our daily lives, many of which we don’t even realize. Being a software or service accessible through the internet, it is available in most places throughout the world and allows for accessibility to many resources that historically may not have been available to all businesses — from startups to enterprises. This global network of managed data centers will continue to drive innovation and excitement throughout many years to come!
Stay turned for future articles regarding additional details and insights into the cloud including topics such as — Getting Started With the Cloud, Cloud Security, Cloud Adoption, Impacts of the Cloud and Benefits of the Cloud!