The Cloud for Dummies: An Introduction for Non-Techies

This is a guest blog from contributor Mark Dacanay of RingCentral. 

The cloud is the latest trend to hit the world of information technology. If the 80s and 90s were about do-it-yourself PCs and networks, today is all about turning to the Internet for a solution. And, in fact, it is turning out to be a more efficient way of doing things.

What is the Cloud?

Believe it or not, you are probably using the cloud regularly without even realizing it. Ever wonder how you are able to do some of the things you can do through your computer, like sending email, chatting with another person, or making calls online? Most of these services are delivered via the cloud.

The cloud is a buzzword that is used to describe a network of servers that is accessed over the internet. It refers to sharing resources, software, and information via a network (AKA – The Internet). Instead of storing the data or software locally in your hard drive or through your own servers, it will be stored remotely in the cloud provider’s server and delivered to you.

Instead of a private network serving one or more users, cloud providers have huge data centers that can host their services and deliver them to multiple customers around the world.

Finally, these networks of servers do not even have to be in one place. A cloud provider could have two or more data centers scattered across the globe. So, when they say that your data is in the cloud or that the service is hosted in the cloud, it means that your data, resource, software, or any specific information could actually be stored in several servers in different locations.

How does the cloud work?

As mentioned, most of the things you can do on your computer right now is being served via the cloud. Using your email, your social media accounts, chat apps, and more means you are using the cloud. After all, how could you have used them when you did not really install their software within your computer? You just typed their URL in your browser’s address bar and logged in. That is how most cloud services are accessed – through a browser or through special apps for mobile or desktop that makes it easier for users to get the service.

Most cloud services are available on a subscription basis. While you are not paying for the subscription, you still need to sign up and login to identify yourself as a user of the cloud service.

Most B2B and Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud providers, like RingCentral, also use the cloud to deliver their service to their customers. Like the free cloud tools, there is still the need to subscribe to the service but now there is a payment component attached to it. Instead of asking each client to build their own phone system from scratch, businesses just subscribe to RingCentral and use their service as needed. They are free to unsubscribe anytime, just like Facebook.

Pros and Cons of the Cloud

Like everything else in this world, the cloud has its positives and negatives. Let us start with the positives:

  • Accessible anywhere in the world – The most attractive benefit of the cloud is that it can be accessed anywhere in the world. You can create a document in Dropbox in the US and someone in the Philippines can easily edit it immediately in the same file. As long as the user has internet access, the cloud is there. Perfect for the modern mobile working environment.
  • Easy setup – Most of the common cloud services, such as social media sites, do not even need installation. Just type the URL on the address bar and log in.
  • Automatic updates – Updates and improvements to the cloud service is installed on the cloud provider’s servers. As a result, these updates are automatically rolled out to all its users automatically.
  • No maintenance – Because the service is housed in the cloud provider’s data center, they are also the ones who have to maintain it.
  • No large capital investment –There is no need to build your own infrastructure to house a certain service because you can just subscribe to a cloud provider who already has the data center.

Of course, the cloud is not perfect and there are legitimate concerns about it, such as:

  • Security and privacy – The cloud uses the public internet to deliver a range of services. This means that when you subscribe to a cloud service, your data will be travelling through the public internet, too, resulting in private and confidential data being in danger of being intercepted or hacked. Fortunately, the most reputable cloud providers employ high-level encryption to safeguard the transmission of data. Also, some cloud providers include options that comply with HIPAA about the handling and storing of private data.
  • No control – Cloud providers are essentially third-party suppliers. For consumers, this is not that big of a deal, but it is for businesses. After all, you are entrusting important aspects of your business, like storage and communications, to another company. However, as said above, reputable cloud providers have existing policies and safeguards to protect their customers’ data.
  • Dependency to the internet – No internet, No cloud service. Simple as that.

Of course, there is more to the cloud than what is discussed here. Hopefully, this gives you a foundation about the subject so that you have a better understanding of further discussions about this emerging trend in information technology.

Are you a cloud service provider? Then you should know that the .CLOUD domain extension is available at Rebel to help your services stand out online.

Mark Dacanay

Mark Dacanay is a Digital Marketing Professional who has been working with a B2B company offering cloud-based services for more than 5 years. He is obsessed with anything about the cloud – the technology, not the fluffy stuff in the sky.

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