We live our lives in increasingly digital spaces. More and more often, things we used to do on pen and paper are moving to the “cloud“. I’m sure you’re familiar, or at least heard mention of it in passing. It’s something of a buzzword these days, and for good reason.
Cloud storage and cloud computing have taken the world by storm. Dropbox, a popular cloud storage and computing service, gets a billion files added a day to its servers.
The popularity of cloud services begs the question: Should you take advantage of this new thing? Do you need a cloud workspace?
It’s a tough question to answer if you don’t understand any of this “cloud” mumbo jumbo is in the first place, so let me break it all down for you.
The Basics of Cloud Computing
Whenever you hear someone talk about “cloud computing” or “cloud storage” what they’re really talking about is the Internet. This is because among the essential characteristics of cloud computing, the first is simply the delivery of computing services wirelessly over the Internet.
You’ve probably been using cloud computing without even knowing it. If you use an email account with a service like Gmail or Yahoo, you’ve been secretly familiar with cloud computing.
Companies like Google, Yahoo, or the aforementioned Dropbox can be classified as cloud computing companies (at least in part) because they provide a computing service (in this case, file storage) wirelessly, and communicate with you, the customer, via the Internet.
So, in the case of Dropbox, instead of having to buy another hard drive to store your large files, you can simply pay a small monthly fee to have them store your files on their servers. And these companies are far more equipped to handle your storage needs since they have server rooms the size of airplane hangars that can host billions upon billions of files.
Of course, cloud computing services stretch far beyond just simple file storage, but they all fall into three distinct categories.
The Different Types of Cloud Services
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of cloud computing, let’s talk about the different types of services cloud computing can provide.
#1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
You want to think of each of these as Russian Nesting Dolls. Infrastructure-as-a-Service, or IaaS, is the smallest doll in the bunch, and provides the most basic computational services.
With IaaS, you can rent (in a sense) actual computer hardware for your own use, such as servers, storage, or virtual computers. Dropbox is an example of an IaaS because it provides a customer with just bare bones storage needs.
By putting your files on Dropbox, you are essentially “renting” space on their hard drives and servers.
#2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Platform-as-a-service, or PaaS, is the next largest nesting doll and encompasses all of IaaS services, and thusly has its qualities.
PaaS provides cloud computing services that allow a customer to run and develop software and applications virtually, without having to deal with the stresses of actual hardware maintenance. A lot of cloud workspaces function as PaaS’s.
Say, for example, you wanted to develop a software application (think something like Facebook or Twitter) using a programming language known as Python. Well, to do that you’d need to download all this software and take all of these different steps to make Python run on your computer. It’s a total headache.
But with a PaaS cloud service, like Amazon’s cloud workspace called Cloud 9, you can program in a ton of different languages in an instant because they’re hosting all the software you need on their machines.
#3. Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software-as-a-service, or SaaS, is the largest nesting doll of them all, so without the backbone that IaaS and PaaS provide, it wouldn’t exist.
Almost everything you use on the Internet is a SaaS app. Things like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are SaaS apps.
They all provide a service to you over the Internet and host all the files, run all the maintenance, and update all the software that is required to run it on their own hardware.
Where a Cloud Workspace Fits Into The Equation
Most cloud workspaces function primarily as a SaaS or a PaaS, it just depends on what the workspace is and what you need it for.
Amazon’s cloud workspace, which is a PaaS, is a great tool if you happen to be a website developer or an app designer because you can host all of your work on their servers.
This provides you two main advantages. The first is that you will know that all of your files are secure. The reason cloud computing has gotten so popular is because it keeps your work secure from hardware failures on your end.
Also Read | Traditional Data Center V/S Cloud Data Center
Many of the computers we use in our day-to-day lives are typically much older and less sophisticated than the ones big companies like Dropbox or Amazon use and are much more prone to failure.
There’s also always the potential for human error. You could drop your hard drive or your toddler could spill water on your computer, or you could just simply lose your laptop and just like that, all of your precious files could vanish.
With a cloud workspace or cloud storage, your files aren’t tied to your own hardware.
The second advantage is that cloud workspaces allow you to work on different computers at different locations whenever you want. If you’re at home you can get work done by simply logging into your virtual workspace, and when you’re at work you can pick up where you left off without missing a beat.
Of course, a cloud workspace isn’t only beneficial if you’re a programmer.
Services like Google Docs are great for writers, and some services provide entire computers and operating systems in the cloud for any sort of use you can think of.
They’re great for anyone that travels and frequently works from home. If this doesn’t describe you, but you’d like to figure out how to make money working from home I’d suggest reading more here.
With the aid of cloud computing, it’s easy!