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cloud data
favorite music
birthday party
Cloud Data
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Cloud Data

You have probably heard the term cloud computing with increasing regularity. The advertisements on television and in magazines harken a new day in storage. A place to keep digital pictures of last summer's family picnic and Uncle Joe's birthday party. And when you want to listen to your favorite music, reach back into the cloud and there it is.

But what exactly is the cloud and how can it actually hold all of my data? In fact, what is this thing called data?

The best way to begin is to understand what data is. Data at it lowest level is simply ones and zeros strung together. These ones and zeros are used in what is called the Binary Numbering system. If you string these together, you can represent numbers, words, and pictures.

In example, the binary string 01001010 01101111 01110011 01100101 01110000 01101000 represents my name, Joseph.

Today's date, February 29, 2012 would be stored as 01000110 01100101 01100010 01110010 01110101 01100001 01110010 01111001 00100000 00110010 00111001 00101100 00100000 00110010 00110000 00110001 00110010.

All of these ones and zeros get stored in some fashion, on some type of medium such as disk drives or in memory boards on your computer. These ones and zeros can be transported from one place to another by various means as well, most notably networks. So not to bore you completely, this data is what becomes stored out in the cloud.

The term cloud is a broad and general term that describes computer resources that are pooled together and redistributed based on what is needed by users. The result is a compute environment that can be used or consumed like a public utility—"as needed" rather than "how built." What all of this means is that a whole bunch of computer equipment is managed by someone (utility company) so you don't have to. They provide you a connection and space on which to store data or to run your software applications. They provide the "electricity" at the wall socket.

You could liken the cloud to that computer sitting on your desk at home. You have a self contained unit that has a processor inside for doing all of the heavy work. There is also memory and some type of disk drive for storing all of that data (ones and zeros). Lastly you have a computer screen to see what is going on, a keyboard and mouse to interact with the computer and some type of connection to the outside world. This "connection to the outside world" is something we'll get to later.

You fill this computer with music, pictures, documents and thousands of other bits of data. But the space runs out, so you connect an external disk drive in order to store even more stuff (data). The rest of your family wants access to those pictures of last summer's family picnic from their own computers. So you create a little network inside your house so that everyone has access to the pictures by connecting to your computer.

All of a sudden you have your own mini-cloud.

Anytime someone in your family connects their computer to your home network, they have access to the pictures. It doesn't matter to them that the pictures are on a disk drive connected to your computer. All that matters to them is that the pictures are accessible. It is the same thing they expect when they plug the computer into an electrical socket. The expectation is that electricity is there in order to power their computer. It doesn't matter where the electricity comes from, just that it is available.

Now extend that concept to a much broader view of storing and accessing data. Your desktop computer at home will eventually fill up with photographs of several family picnics, birthdays, holidays and vacations. You can keep adding more disk drives to store all of these pictures, but what if you want to go visit Aunt Laura? Most certainly she will want to see those pictures.

Do you box up your desktop computer and all of the disk drives to take with you? Of course not, because you have the latest laptop with just enough disk space to store maybe one third of the pictures from your home computer. You could copy a bunch of the pictures to a CD-Rom or DVD drive, but that can be a hassle.

What are you going to do?

Simply put, move those pictures, documents and music to the cloud. And what that means is to store all of that data on storage that can accessed from anywhere. Amazon Web Services, Google Apps, Microsoft 365, Apple iCloud and Dropbox are examples of well known providers. When you get to Aunt Laura's house, you connect your laptop to the internet and then connect instantly to one of your service providers.

Now you can sit back and show Aunt Laura all of the pictures you took at Uncle Joe's birthday party, last summer's family picnic and everything else. You will never miss having all of those pictures, songs, movies and pictures readily available. No matter where you go, as long as you have access to the network, you have access to your stuff (data).

Hopefully the mystery of "cloud computing" has been slightly been removed. There are a lot of other things that go into how the cloud works. Lots of computers, wires, switches and software that keep it up and running. But that is the true beauty of "cloud computing" in that it does not and should not matter to you. All that you care is when you plug in, your data is available; just like plugging in your toaster, the electricity is just there.

Have a great time in the cloud my friends and tell Aunt Laura hello for me.


Street Talk

BIS_Coach  

For the first time I really understand about cloud data. This is a really good article and a must read for anyone wanting to get to grips with this topic.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Thanks for the explanation.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Allow me to shake my head a few times to untangle my whiskers from the harp strings. Something like this always happens when I'm challenged to boggle my head with a new concept. I was already crazy enough when working only with zeros and ones.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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