Does it Rain in The Cloud?
The cloud is a term that is being tossed around a lot these days. In fact the term, the cloud, has become so ubiquitous that it’s common to see it used in scenarios where it may not apply. Many people use the term “the cloud” with very little knowledge of what it actually means. Most information technology specialist are so accustomed to hearing technology terms misused that they forget there may be widespread misconceptions regarding the term.
Before anything else, clarifications are required regarding the term “the cloud”. The cloud could refer to any number of technologies categorized under the umbrella of cloud computing. Cloud computing is pretty much any computing process that occurs in the cloud. There are a lot of different uses of cloud computing but the vast majority of people are referring to cloud storage when using the term “the cloud”. Storage is where all your data is saved, cloud storage is when your data is saved in the cloud. The term cloud storage is related to clouds in the sky. A cloud in the sky is made of millions of water droplets grouped together, but is seen as one cloud. Cloud storage is a group of storage devices connected to one another, using the internet or other network, which are treated as a single storage pool. That explanation may leave some scratching their heads so it’s best to cover some related concepts as well.
Storage devices are things like hard drives or groupings of hard drives. Cloud storage can be comprised of hundreds of storage devices housed in data centers across the globe. What makes cloud storage complicated is there are any number of storage devices that hold all the information or data. In order to understand cloud storage it helps to conceptualize some of the basics. Cloud storage is all about logical storage pools. A logical storage pool does not physically exist as a single object. Logical storage pools are virtual groupings of multiple physical storage devices that work together to act as one giant storage device. This means that there may be 300 physical storage devices but they all act together, and are seen, as one massive virtual storage pool. There are a variety of technologies and programs that enable this but all that needs to be understood is that many physical devices act like one huge device. Using logical storage doesn’t mean the size of your cloud is exactly the sum of all the physical storage devices you have. A logical storage pool can be any size up to the total size of all the physical storage devices combined. A single storage cloud can also host as many logical storage pools as needed. Typically a single provider will create one massive cloud of storage and sections of it are “rented” out to various clients. Similar to renting a space in a warehouse the client isn’t tied to the storage capacity of a single space. Each client has the option to easily expand or contract their storage as their needs change.
Cloud storage has quickly grown in popularity in recent years. By linking together a large number of smaller storage devices it is easily possible to have enormous storage pools that would be otherwise difficult to create. The nature of the cloud offers clients the ability to only pay for the space they need and easily increase or decrease in size in the future. Everyday incredible amounts of data is being produced and the cloud has created an excellent way to store that data. Too often people live in ignorance to the terms they use. When someone educates themselves about the words they use, they gain a greater appreciation for the wonders behind it.