Cloud Cloud computing Secrets of the IT department Storage

Cloud computing and storage – Secrets of the IT department

Like them or loathe them, all employees will need, at some point, to interact with the support services offered by the IT department. In this series of short articles, we uncover some of the secret workings of the IT department, finding out what is jargon and what is just common sense that can apply to all of us, regardless of our role, work, or profession.

The invisible vault that’s closer than you think

Welcome to the eighth article in our enlightening IT secrets series. Today, we’re exploring the jargon-filled universe of cloud computing and storage. Forget about those fluffy white formations in the sky; we’re talking about a robust, invisible digital vault. Much like a bank secures your money, the cloud safeguards your digital belongings – documents, photos, or applications – and makes them accessible no matter where you are.

What is cloud computing and storage?

At its core, cloud computing and storage involve managing and storing data and applications over the internet rather than on physical hardware in your home or office. It’s like renting a storage unit for your furniture and personal belongings, but you’re storing digital data this time. You store your digital assets online, and the ‘landlord,’ or the cloud service provider, handles the maintenance and security. The best part? You can access these assets from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection.

Why cloud computing and storage matter

You might wonder why you need to understand cloud technology if you’re not an IT professional. Well, cloud technology is increasingly becoming a part of everyone’s life. For instance, when you collaborate with colleagues on Google Docs, you use the cloud. When you store your holiday photos on services like iCloud or Dropbox, you’re also relying on the cloud. It’s like having a digital filing cabinet that you can access anytime, anywhere, making it a practical tool for work and personal use.

Key elements of cloud computing and storage

  • Public cloud – Think of a bustling public library where you can borrow any book but can’t control who else is in the building. Similarly, a public cloud is available to everyone and maintained by providers such as Amazon AWS or Google Cloud. Because it’s shared, it’s generally less expensive but offers less control.
  • Private cloud – Imagine a members-only golf club where only members and their guests can enter. In the digital world, a private cloud is for a specific organisation. This setup provides more control over data and applications but often costs more.
  • Hybrid cloud – Consider this the wardrobe of someone who lives in a city with very varied weather. They might have sundresses, heavy coats, and everything in between. A hybrid cloud allows you to mix and match, using public for some functions and private for others, depending on your specific needs and security requirements.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – It’s like renting an empty shop space for your business. You get the basic walls, electricity, and plumbing, but you’ll need to bring in your inventory, cash registers, and decor. In IaaS, you rent basic computing resources on which you install your software and applications.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) – Imagine a co-working space where not only is the space provided but also the desks, chairs, printers, and coffee machines. PaaS offers both the infrastructure and the software tools you need to build applications.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – Consider this the digital equivalent of a magazine subscription. You don’t own the magazines, but you get new issues regularly that you can read. Similarly, you don’t own the software but pay a fee to use it, like Microsoft 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud.

Top tips for making the most of cloud services

  1. Understand your needs
    It’s similar to grocery shopping with a list. Knowing what you need helps you choose the right cloud services for your situation.
  2. Check security features
    Ensure the cloud service provider offers robust security features like encryption and multi-factor authentication (MFA). It’s like double-checking that a car you’re considering buying has airbags and good crash test ratings.
  3. Backup your data
    Think of this as having a first aid kit at home; it’s a safety net. Always keep a separate copy of important data stored in another location.
  4. Understand the costs
    Imagine comparing gym memberships to find the best value for what you need – pools, saunas, or specific classes. Similarly, know what you’re getting for the price you’re paying in cloud services.
  5. Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
    This is akin to having both a lock and a security camera at your front door. With MFA, even if someone guesses your password, they’ll still need a second form of verification to access your data.

The benefits of good cloud management

  • Accessibility: Imagine entering your home with a digital key that you can share with family members. In the cloud, your data is accessible from any internet-connected device, offering flexibility and convenience.
  • Cost-efficiency: Think of using a bicycle-sharing service instead of buying a bike. You use it when you need it, avoiding the cost and hassle of ownership. Cloud services are similar; you pay for what you use, eliminating the need for expensive hardware.
  • Security: Like a safe deposit box in a bank that requires multiple keys to open, reputable cloud providers have robust security measures. They use encryption, multi-factor authentication, and other tactics to protect your valuable data.
  • Scalability: Consider a house with an adjustable design where walls can be moved to create new rooms as your family grows. In the cloud, you can quickly expand your storage and services as your needs evolve, usually with just a few clicks.

A look back at the series

This article is the eighth in a series that covers everything from incident and problem management to change, asset, and service level management, as well as the critical subjects of business continuity, disaster recovery and cybersecurity.

We hope you find these insights helpful. The next topic in our series will reveal more behind-the-scenes secrets from the world of IT that directly impact each of us, whether we’re in an IT role or not.