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New Course Alert!......Cloud Computing

To many of us, cloud computing might at first glance appear to be a bit of a convoluted subject. Most people will have had a run in with the idea of ‘The Cloud’ at some point, usually through the cloud storage features of organisations like Apple or Microsoft. We’re aware our photographs and files are stored somewhere out there in the ether, but might not be totally certain where, or what that really means.

Back to basics

To understand a basic understanding of what cloud computing really is, let’s get back to the basics for a moment.

Cloud computing works on the principle that users don’t require access to large amounts of storage or computing power all at the same time. In the past, when most individuals didn’t have access to a computer at all, places like libraries had terminals all connected to a single machine doing all the heavy lifting. No individual user required the full use of the machine at any one time, so the computer could address each task in sequence while the user felt no difference in the end service provided. At the time, the concept was known as ‘time-sharing via remote job entry’. The library idea is possibly the simplest example of this early type of system employed at larger professional scales by companies like IBM in the 1960s.

While modern cloud computing might be similar in basic principle, the scale and level of complexity is much greater than it was 40 or 50 years ago. Whereas scores of users might have had access to a single machine in the past, modern cloud computing often facilitates the access of millions of users to millions of machines that aren’t just on the floor above, but all over the world.

What about today?

Instead of a single machine in a library basement, vast amounts of data and requests are processed through data centres. Data centres themselves might be familiar as those underground football field sized basements filled to the brim with endless rows of towering server racks. Microsoft recently experimented with placing one of these data centres in the North Sea, which might seem counter intuitive but actually proved a reasonable success in isolating the machines from pesky corrosive oxygen, as well as saving huge amounts of energy and cost on cooling provided by the frigid waters.

There are lots of different versions of what constitutes a cloud system, but a couple of the most used examples include Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure. Amazon Web Services in particular is used as a hosting platform for a vast array of websites.

Depending on what kind of service is being provided or accessed, a cloud system will distribute each of its functions to a separate location whether that be separate machines in a data centre or separate data centres entirely. The services delivered can include storage, databases, networking and analytics, as well as access to more complex software and tools remotely.

While not only allowing businesses to start operating without access to the vast capital required to purchase and operate the machines necessary for their goals, one of the central benefits of operating this way is the ability to scale organically. Cloud services usually only charge for the resources a business uses, saving costs that might ordinarily be spent keeping in-house servers operating consistently. Because the infrastructure is already in place, the services delivered can scale up far more easily and in line with demand, like when a specific website has a widely fluctuating amount of traffic.

Not being physically responsible for hardware has many benefits. Companies that run cloud services will keep their hardware maintained and up to date, covering repair costs and installing newer hardware without the need for a direct investment from the organisations using them. Much greater protection from disasters and system failure is also provided by operating at this scale. Important data can be stored across multiple redundancies to ensure nothing is lost to bad luck or faulty hardware.

What does this mean for you?

It’s only been possible to touch on a fraction of the complexity and usefulness of cloud computing in this short blog, it’s a complicated subject with endless tangents anyone could get lost in for years.

Knowing the ins and outs of how services are provided can really help you organise your business to get the best out of the infrastructure. Because Cloud Computing is such an integral part of how modern businesses operate online, a working knowledge of the details can be an invaluable asset.

Working out how your business can fully take advantage of the technology and services available can be a daunting task. A good place to start, that can provide both the working knowledge base and the skills to apply that knowledge, is our fully accredited course on Cloud Computing. The course is designed for managers, service providers and administrators working on internet-based services.

Many of us have already felt a positive effect from using cloud-based technologies, even if it is just for our personal data storage, why shouldn’t your business take full advantage as well?

If you’re interested in the course and want to find out more, visit us here