“The cloud” is a friendly way of describing web-based computing services that are hosted outside of your organization. When you use cloud-based services, your IT infrastructure resides off your property (off-premises), and is maintained by a third party (hosted), instead of residing on a server at your home or business (on-premises) that you maintain.
With Office 365, for example, information storage, computation, and software are located and managed remotely on servers owned by Microsoft. Many services you use every day are a part of the cloud—everything from web-based email to mobile banking and online photo storage. Because this infrastructure is located online or “in the cloud,” you can access it virtually anywhere, from a PC, tablet, smartphone, or other device with an Internet connection.
Are you “In the cloud?”
The cloud is a term that people use but can’t clearly define. What is the cloud? Where is the cloud? What is in it for you and your business?
If you use any kind of social media or online data backup/storage service, you’re already using the cloud and you just may not realize it.
It is fair to say that with the ubiquity of the cloud, the answer to the question “Am I in the cloud?” is almost certainly – yes.
What is the cloud exactly?
First up, understand that the cloud is neither a place or a physical thing. The cloud is a network of servers, and each server has a different function. Some servers run applications, some store data and some act as controllers for the other servers.
The folks over at SalesForce came up with a great way to think about the cloud in real terms; “Where in the past, people would run applications or programs from software downloaded on a physical computer or server in their building, cloud computing allows people access the same kinds of applications through the Internet.”
What are the benefits to working in the cloud?
Microsoft do a pretty good of outlining the headline benefits to being in their cloud. We like the list so much, we’ve included it here.