What exactly is the cloud?

When people talk about cloud computing, you may find yourself asking questions like, what is the cloud? Where is the cloud? Are we in the cloud?

Like the internet, the cloud is actually everywhere. This is because quite simply, the term ‘cloud’ is just a metaphor for the internet. To put it in its simplest term, cloud computing means storing and accessing data, and running programmes over the internet.

For decades, we’ve been managing data and running programmes by utilising the hard drive inside of our desktop computer or laptop. This is known as ‘local storage’ and is obviously not what cloud storage means. Some would argue that local storage is still superior to cloud storage but it would depend on your needs, your connectivity type and of course, security. It’s also important to note that the cloud is not about having dedicated network attached storage hardware (NAS). For data and programmes to be considered as cloud storage and cloud computing, it would need to be accessed over the internet.

Cloud Storage vs. Cloud Computing

Many consumers use the terms “cloud storage” and “cloud computing” believing that they’re one and the same. This is far from the truth.

While cloud storage and cloud computing have a lot in common and are derived from the same source ‘The’ cloud, they are different concepts.

Cloud Storage
Think of cloud storage as having your “documents”, “music”, “pictures” and “videos” folders available to you, anywhere, anytime and on any Internet-connected device, as if it were on your traditional desktop or laptop at home.

What makes cloud storage superior is that your data will never be subject to hardware malfunction and space limitations. These will be if they aren’t already, a thing of the past. Organisations make use of cloud storage to securely share and collaborate information with colleagues and clients.

Some examples of cloud storage would be: Apple iCloud, Amazon Cloud Drive and besides the array of cloud computing services offered there’s always Google Drive.

Cloud Computing
Cloud computing allows you to create and/or edit data that you have stored in the cloud by way of systems such as “Software as a Service” (SaaS). It would be like plugging your keyboard, mouse and monitor into the cloud instead of your desktop or laptop. Like cloud storage, there are many advantages that cloud computing has over conventional computing in that, depending on the service you use, the resources available to you are exponentially superior to that of your local hardware and are also not subject to hardware failure.

An excellent example of cloud computing would be Microsoft’s Web-based app, Office Online, which is Internet-only versions of the Office Suite.

We, at Omnicor, allow our clients to make use of our systems as a complete cloud solution thereby reducing costs and bypassing the need to have any software installed on their local machines.

We have a customised version of our Flagship product, RoleFit, that offers a complete, end-to-end application platform for students applying for internships. The system stores massive amounts of data safely for each applicant. Accessibility and the highest level of security underpin all our systems.

Author: William N. Irwin
Senior Developer

Photo: Pero Kalimero