WHAT IS THE CLOUD?

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For several years now, people have been constantly talking about the cloud, cloud computing, cloud services, etc. Despite this, today there are many people who still do not understand these concepts. For this reason, in the following article I will try to explain these concepts in a way that everyone can understand.

WHAT IS THE CLOUD?

The cloud is simply a metaphor to refer to the services that are used over the Internet . The origin of this metaphor is the following:

Historically, the Internet has always been represented as a cloud at the time of schematizing the operation of network infrastructures and services. So, for example, if we study a simplified scheme of how Dropbox works, we can see the following:

Scheme of how Dropbox works

In order for information to flow from Dropbox to users and vice versa, we need the internet, and as can be seen in the diagram, the internet is represented as a cloud.

As a result of these schematic representations and the proliferation of services similar to Dropbox, the cloud concept was born to refer to the services that are used over the internet.

Note: Technically the graphical representation of the cloud in a diagram means that there is a communication process between 2 points, which do not belong to the same network, which allows data to arrive from one point to another.

WHAT ARE SERVICES IN THE CLOUD OR CLOUD COMPUTING?

We call cloud services any program or service that we use and it is not physically installed on our computer or equipment . The way to access these services that are not installed on our computer is through the internet.

Every cloud service usually consists of several data processing centers that have software installed to provide us with a service. With our computers, tablets or telephone, all we do is connect via the Internet to these data centers in order to carry out the task we have to carry out.

By way of example, when we access our Dropbox account, all we are doing is connecting via the internet to a data processing center with an unknown location that stores our data. Once connected to the data processing center, the Dropbox software that runs on the data processing center will allow us to download and upload our files.

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CLOUD SERVICES THAT EVERYONE USES

Some examples of cloud services that everyone is used to using are:

App stores such as Google Play, the App Store, etc.

Web applications such as the Google Gdrive office suite, the Microsoft Office 365 Office suite, gmail email, etc.

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Services to store our data such as Dropbox, Owncloud , Box, OneDrive, etc.

Music or video game platforms such as Spotify or Steam.

Etc.

ADVANTAGES OF SERVICES IN THE CLOUD

Obviously cloud computing and cloud services have a number of advantages that are undeniable. Some of the advantages they offer us are the following:

Ease of access since we can access a service or our data from any computer wherever we are. We only need an Internet connection.

Generally the services located in the cloud are very easy to use since they are specifically designed for use by non-advanced users.

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If the cloud services are managed by third parties, we don’t have to worry about anything . Specialized companies offer Cloud Computing services and will be in charge of carrying out all the maintenance, software updates, investing in infrastructure, etc.

By ignoring privacy, our data is more secure in the cloud . Virtually all cloud services have replicas. Thus, in the hypothetical case that the data processing center that stores our dropbox files is damaged or destroyed, nothing would happen because the same data would be located in other data centers.

The services allow economic savings in software, hardware and maintenance since we can specifically contract the resources we need, the cost of electricity consumption and all fixed costs are divided among all users of the service, etc.

DISADVANTAGES OF SERVICES IN THE CLOUD

Obviously cloud computing and cloud services also have drawbacks and there are people who are totally against their use. The reasons are as follows

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Cloud services managed by third parties tend to generate privacy problems since in many cases they are storing personal information without us knowing how they can use it.

Uploading information to a certain platform can generate intellectual property problems . It is possible that there are services that in their conditions of service specify that all content stored on their servers becomes their property.

There are currently important loopholes in the laws that apply to certain cloud services. A simple example is if a Canadian company has servers in Germany, what law should apply to information stored on servers in Germany? The Canadian or the German?

We have the risk that the service may disappear . The moment a service disappears, we can easily lose the information stored in the service and the advance payment that has been made to use the service. I imagine that on this point everyone will remember the Megaupload case.

To access the cloud service it is necessary to have internet . If we don’t have Internet, we won’t be able to use it.

Part of the problems that we have just mentioned can be solved by hiring the necessary infrastructure so that we ourselves can set up our own services in the cloud with free software . For this I recommend reading the following section.

HAVE OUR OWN SERVICES IN THE CLOUD

To avoid some of the problems offered by cloud services managed by third parties, the first thing we need to do is hire an infrastructure on which we can install cloud services based on free software.

There are many companies that offer the necessary hardware to build our services in the cloud, however in my case I recommend 1 & 1. The reasons for my recommendation are the following:

The service offered does not have any type of permanence. Therefore, at any time we can change providers without having any type of penalty.

The value for money offered is good and is supported by obtaining the cloud spectator award for the cloud computing service that offers the best value for money.

Note: If you want more information about the results and participants of the analysis carried out by Cloud Sptectator, you can consult the following link.

Once we have contracted and configured the hardware , we can install the cloud services that we need to use. For this we can hire a systems administrator or follow tutorials made by the community that you will find on the Internet . In this same blog there are numerous examples of how to install and configure cloud services such as the tutorial to create and configure an openvpn server or on the installation of an Owncloud server with SSL and Webdav.