What is a Cloud? What is Cloud Computing?

The terms cloud and cloud computing are used very often, but what is actually behind it? In this article we present the different terms in an understandable way. The term cloud has established itself as a short form of cloud computing. Briefly summarized: The term cloud refers to the interaction of several servers. The servers take over tasks such as data storage or complicated program sequences.

The cloud user doesn’t realize how many servers are behind the cloud. Even if one server fails, this has no effect on the entire system. This independence from the individual servers is therefore referred to as the cloud because the user does not need to have an overview of the individual units (cloudy/unclear for the user). The cloud is the big whole of these computing units.

Cloud therefore does not mean that your data is transmitted exclusively via “clouds” or satellites. Everything essentially takes place on earth and your “normal” Internet connection via radio towers, routers, cables and data centres is used.

Important basics

We are primarily concerned with offers that provide storage space in the cloud. However, this is only one use case. In addition, running your own software in the cloud, for example, is also a possibility. The different models: Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service are explained in more detail in the Cloud A-Z below.

Thanks to cloud services, we can access much larger storage volumes. We can access our data in the cloud from anywhere in the world. We can run more complex software than ever before. And we can network our devices better.

All of this, of course, entails dangers. With the right credentials, others can access our cloud, whether they’re intelligence agencies, other government agencies, or companies with immense market power. Therefore, on this page we present you with offers that promise a secure cloud.

Another disadvantage of the cloud should not be forgotten: no cloud without the Internet. Even if we have access to the Internet from more and more places nowadays, you should always keep in mind that your data is stored on another storage medium, which you can often only access via the Internet.

The Cloud A-Z

Around the cloud there are many other terms that appear again and again in connection with cloud and cloud computing. The explanation of these terms can be found in Cloud A-Z. The source of most of this info is digitalnibbles.com.

Business Cloud: This website uses the term to refer to offerings aimed at businesses. Click here to learn more.

Cloud computing: see above, means the interaction of several servers that take over tasks as a whole and can, for example, provide storage space.

Community cloud: means the cloud as a (local) joint project. A group of users gets together and shares the costs for the project. For example, a community cloud of several universities or colleges is conceivable.

Hybrid Cloud: A combination of the private cloud and the public cloud, depending on individual needs.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): In contrast to PaaS and SaaS, IaaS takes place at the lowest level, the hardware assembly. This cloud service provides you with servers that you divide into your own virtual computer clusters, i.e. computer networks. You are responsible for the selection of any software.

Multi Cloud: Based on the idea of the hybrid cloud, several cloud offerings are linked and bundled here.

NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology, USA): The US institute has developed a definition of the cloud. More details can be found in the next section on this page.

Platform as a Service (PaaS): PaaS operates between IaaS and SaaS on the 2nd level. You have access to a fully configured software environment in which, for example, you can also run your own software.

Private Cloud: Your own computer structure or cloud. This can be an internal company cloud or the small cloud server in your living room (see instructions).

Public Cloud: IT infrastructures or a cloud that is accessible to everyone. On our site we also refer to providers as so-called cloud hosters (examples).

Software as a Service (SaaS): also known as Software on Demand. You can use selected software that runs on the servers in the cloud. You have only limited influence on the software yourself. Even some web applications, such as an online office offering, can be described as SaaS.

Virtual private cloud: A public cloud is accessed via a local (virtual) environment. The security is usually provided by a VPN.
Definition of Cloud Computing

So luckily, there is even a definition of cloud computing, compiled by the US institute NIST. This definition has not only coined our Cloud A-Z with terms like Multi Cloud & Co., but also includes some criteria.

5 characteristics are mentioned that are cloud specific:

  1. On-demand self-service: The user can access cloud capacities at any time without any human intervention.
  2. Access with known technologies (“Broad network access”): Users can access the cloud via their Internet connection and corresponding clients. This means, for example, that devices such as your own computer, but also smartphones and tablets can be used to access the cloud.
  3. Pooling of resources (“resource pooling”): The server capacities are bundled and present themselves to the user as one cloud/cloud without the user being able to identify individual servers.
  4. Resource adaptation (“rapid elasticity”): The resources available to the individual user can be adapted – possibly even automatically. This gives the user the impression of unlimited storage space.
  5. Monitoring the service (“measured service”): This does not mean monitoring the data itself. Within the cloud, the individual servers are automatically monitored and optimized.

If you yourself apply these criteria to a cloud service you know, you will see what a cloud can be and how far the term cloud is.

We hope we have given you an understandable explanation of the cloud and cloud computing on this page. Are you interested in storage space in a cloud? Then you can set up your own cloud here, view good cloud hosters or learn more about the cloud for your business.