Breaking it Down Bit by Bit | An Introduction to the Cloud

May 19, 2017 | In and Around Green Cloud, Solutions, Technology & Engineering

Technology — particularly cloud computing — can be overwhelming, challenging and bang-your-head-against-the-keyboard frustrating. Many of us — myself included — simply gloss over mechanical, jargon-filled articles and webpages. We ignore learning a new word, skill or emerging technology because doing so feels daunting; doing so takes us back to the 4th grade when Mrs. Johnson introduced us to fractions and long division.

We’d scratch our heads and say, “Fifteen divided by four? Huh?”

Now, we scratch our heads and say, “A virtual machine disk? What in the world is that? A fully configured QNAP NAS? Now you’re just talking nonsense, Steve.” (Yes, in this article, the fictitious person with whom I’m conversing is named Steve.)

Bewildered by the unfamiliar language, we squawk at Steve and slam our laptops shut. As a result, we stop learning. We stick the tools we know; we stick to the tools we’re comfortable using. We do not embrace new science or move forward in the realm of tech.

But what if we broke this realm down bit by bit?  What if we sliced it up like a French baguette, hot out of the oven; what if we used our basic knowledge to introduce intimidating words and ideas? It’s time we open our minds and learn. C’mon, take a bite of the baguette — there’s plenty to go around.

Cloud computing 101: The Fundamentals

Think of the cloud as just that — a cloud. An object in the sky that can be as big or as little as it wants; an object that can travel from one side of the world to the other; an object that can be full of rain, ice or a combo of both. The cloud — we’re talking the technical cloud now — is something that, although you can’t touch it, exists.

You can put storage, networks, servers and more in the cloud, and anyone within your particular cloud’s network — whether they’re in Alabama, Idaho, Tokyo or Mars — can do the same. Oh, and because the cloud is “around us,” per say, there’s no hardware. No clunky fixtures taking up valuable space in your office. Yep, Steve now has a mini fridge stocked up with La Croix where his hardware once sat.

Cloud computing is less prone to theft, too. Those users within your network can backup files into the cloud without having to fear that: A) Steve accidentally deletes his boss’ most important document, or B) Hacker Henry steals Steve’s boss’ most important document. Simply put, in the cloud, your data is located in a secure, reliable environment and accessible whenever you need it, even if that’s at 3AM on a Saturday in October.

Some technical-sounding words explained:

Virtual Server — Shared control and by multiple users, this operating system (OS) works without physical infrastructure

Disaster Recovery — Following human error, disaster recovery put procedures in place to recover lost data, files, etc.

Backup — A tool that makes copies of data in the case that the original is destroyed

Virtual Desktop — Your desktop (photos, wallpaper, apps, etc) is stored remotely on a virtual server, rather than on the computer itself

Okay, that’s enough for now.

I wrote this article to not only help you, but to help myself. I’m new to this world. On most days, I prefer to plant my feet on the ground where I know gravity will keep me safe. I don’t often live with my head in the clouds. But to grow — as an individual, an employee and a student of life — I must open myself up to new ideas. I must learn, day in and day out. In all areas of life, I must challenge my preconceived notions, my existing beliefs and my one-sided arguments. That’s what’s cool about life, anyways. There’s always something to learn. The world never runs out of lessons to teach — especially the world of cloud computing, where innovators constantly introduce cutting-edge technology.

And so I urge you to open yourself up to learning, whether that’s learning about cloud computing, mechanical engineering or scuba diving. Don’t shy away from jargon, numbers or breathing underwater, because tackling a challenge you never believed you could overcome feels as good as a fresh French baguette tastes.

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