What is Cloud?
Regardless of whether you are a private individual or an entrepreneur, cloud computing is on the rise these days and usually both come into regular contact with the term cloud. But what is cloud? How does cloud computing work?
In the following blog entry, we explore these and other fundamental questions about cloud computing in detail.
Once upon a time there was a cloud...
The story of cloud
People's minds are dominated by the "new" concept of the cloud. But the cloud concept is not as new as most people think. In information technology, the term cloud is recognized as a short form for cloud computing. Below this, the cloud is used as a symbol for a network of interaction with multiple servers.
The basic idea of cloud computing actually originated as early as the 1950s. At that time, however, the necessary technical prerequisites for implementing cloud computing were not yet in place. At the end of the 1990s the revolution, the technology was finally ready, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) was now possible. Software-as-a-Service means that an IT service provider operates software that can be used by a user without prior installation by means of a web browser on the user's own end device (PC/laptop). This allows a basic cloud advantage to be worked out:
Licenses and software updates are no longer necessary, as this is the responsibility of the operating IT service provider. An ubiquitous example is an on-premise e-mail server such as Outlook, which required a connection to an exchange server before the Outlook.com variant. On-premise servers require regular updates. In contrast, the Gmail Subscription Model provides a subscription model that requires only registration and a Web browser, allowing remote management. However, Outlook took the pulse of the times and became a subscription model with Outlook.com.
Who is behind the cloud?
What we understand today as cloud computing was established by the Internet giants Amazon, Google and Yahoo. In the mid-2000s, the number of users of these giants increased massively, which meant that the IT systems had to be constantly expanded. This presented the Internet giants with considerable capacity problems, and they were no longer able to provide capacity for peak loads at a reasonable cost. Especially the holiday business posed immense challenges. Amazon needed ten times the IT capacity in contrast to the normal daily business. As a result, Amazon turned its electronic services and service-oriented architecture into a product that is now available as cloud computing. During peak load times, the required server capacity can be used from the company's own cloud. Amazon established itself by leasing computing and storage capacity to companies. This gave birth to Amazon Web Services, the world's largest cloud computing provider with bookable information storage on the Internet.
What does cloud do?
Increasing digitalization is omnipresent and a realignment of existing infrastructures is therefore inevitable. As the speed of the Internet increased and the smartphone era began, the cloud became a common word and gained increasing importance in everyday life. Today, enormous flexibility is provided by a variety of devices that allow us to network in all conceivable places.
Above all, or more precisely in between – the cloud – it offers us both facilitation and availability.
Let's start with an example: The cloud network relieves the load on laptops or smartphones, for example, as long as they are connected to the cloud. Should one of their devices then go on strike, fear of data loss is unfounded. All files or documents are stored and retrievable in the cloud. This allows not only location-independent working but also more storage space on the devices concerned.
How does cloud work?
Loading something into the cloud actually means that you store data on a remote server.
In this process, data is loaded from an end device via the Internet into a server of a cloud provider. Once the data has been successfully uploaded, it can be accessed from all other devices via cloud.
Cloud users do not know how many servers are actually located behind the cloud. The cloud user only sees that the servers are performing tasks such as data storage or program operations.
Provided that the cloud infrastructure is correctly structured and set up, even if one server fails, the entire system is not affected. The independence of the individual servers is called cloud because the user himself does not need to have an overview of the individual units - these are therefore cloudy or unclear. In short, the cloud thus represents the large totality of computing units.
What types of cloud are there?
Not every cloud is the same – there are basically different ways of providing cloud services. In the following, only the different cloud infrastructures are listed.
How the individual infrastructures differ is explained here.
What is meant by cloud computing?
The US American institute NIST has defined the definition of cloud computing as follows:
Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.
Based on the cloud computing Definition of the NIST Institute, a cloud service can be defined by five fundamental characteristics:
On-demand use: Users have on-demand access to cloud capacities without having to contact the service provider.
Broad Network Access: Cloud users have access to the cloud via the internet from any location. This gives users the flexibility to use their (own) devices as they wish.
Resource Pooling: Server capacities are bundled and made available to users in a resource pool. The storage location can be defined in a compatible manner, for example by defining a region or a data center.
Elastic resource adjustment: The available resources can be adjusted quickly and flexibly for users. This gives the user a feeling of unlimited storage capacity.
Measurable service: All resources used within the cloud have automated measurement, control and optimization so that they are always visible to cloud users.