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What Exactly is the Cloud? And Where is it?

There is plenty of talk in recent years about the cloud.

Cloud this, cloud that…

But what exactly is the cloud?

It is all right if you are not sure, most folks do not understand it, and some tech professionals even tend to wave their hands to the sky when attempting to describe it!

Because it does not have anything to do with the white fluffy stuff in the sky, we are going to lay everything out:

The Cloud is All About the Data

Cloud computing is about the storage and retrieval of your data (business or personal) inside your slice of the Internet. It is so you will be able to access it from any location, exactly like you do a web page, and it will not matter whether your office is closed and you are squeezing in some work on your mobile phone at night. All will be saved and prepared to pick up when you get back to your office. Coworkers in various locations may also be able to work together on documents in real-time.

But if that all sounds a little futuristic, think about just how an email service such as Gmail works. None of your email messages are kept on your hard drive or computer, they are stored on Google’s Gmail servers, and you will have access to them whenever you want.

Your read, sent, and received messages and modifications are applied immediately and recalled for the next time you log in. This recall represents a form of cloud computing. Netflix is a form of cloud computing, as well. Movies and TV shows can be streamed on request. All the video is being stored on a computer elsewhere in the world and forwarded to your device in small pieces while you watch it. Netflix recalls what you were watching, where you watched up to in the video, and even if you are hopping instantly from one device to another, they have all if it ready for you.

Where is ‘Cloud’ Data Stored?

Great question. And that is the reason why the word ‘cloud’ is causing considerable confusion. The data certainly needs to be physically kept in storage somewhere. Companies that provide cloud-based storage have enormous warehouses devoted to keeping servers whose only job is to transmit and receive data all day. And by vast, we mean ENORMOUS.

You might get lost strolling through the many rows of servers, rack upon rack for what looks like eternity. The largest server farms or ‘cloud campuses’ keep on growing, however, to provide you with an idea: they may be around 1million square feet. It is big business, in a literal sense.

In terms of locale, the US and UK are extremely popular server farm sites, but then the company might also have a copy of your data stored elsewhere around the world. That copy exists to allow them to satisfy their redundancy guarantees – if catastrophe strikes one location, the second one still maintains a copy.

Having other sites and copies also enhances the speed of access. With some businesses, you can choose the desired location to ensure that data does not necessarily have to travel quite as far around the world, boosting speed more significantly, resulting in, of course, the savings of time and money. Collaboration, security, redundancy, AND savings? That is what I like to call a win.

Conclusion

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