The Cloud Doesn’t Need to be Cloudy

You often hear the term the “cloud” or “cloud computing” being thrown around by software providers and developers. For the non-technical folk among us, it might seem like a mysterious place where some sort of magic occurs. While I agree with the magic part, it does not need to be a mystery.

What is Cloud Computing?

In a nutshell, cloud computing is accessing data and applications over the internet rather than using local servers or computers. Instead of owning data centers and servers, you rent them in a pay-as-you-go model. I know that does not help at all, but let me clarify further.

Imagine you own a restaurant, and you have a little garden in the back where you get all your fruits and vegetables. You started that way because you believe in having more control over the quality of your food. You will notice quickly that it is costing you a lot of money and effort to maintain. In addition, it comes along with a lot of risk. What if something happens to your garden?

Let's say you are excellent with gardening and you maintain your crops very well. Imagine your restaurant goes viral on social media, now everyone wants to eat at your restaurant and the lines are super long (good for business!). Your garden is not enough anymore, you will need to increase your supply of veggies. This involves buying new land, hiring farmers, buying seeds, and waiting for the crops to grow. As you can see, it becomes impractical once you scale. To solve this issue, you might reach out to an established farm and buy your vegetables from them as you go, depending on your need.

I know this analogy is getting long but bear with me.

In the above example, the restaurant is the software company, the garden is the servers and data centers, the established farm is the cloud provider (Microsoft, Google, Amazon to name the top three). So instead of having your own infrastructure (On-Premise), you rent it from a cloud provider. This reduces your maintenance risk and allows you to scale easily. If your software has increased traffic, the cloud provider will dynamically increase your supply of servers in a pay-as-you-go model.

Why Cloud?

You might be thinking “but why call it cloud?”. Well, this is a good question, it seems that this was antiquated from the early days of network design. Engineers, in their system design illustrations, would sketch the internet as a cloud. I know, you were expecting something cooler.

Yousef Eshaq, Engineering Manager at RealTerm Energy