Even though cloud has been around for many years there are still a lot of misconceptions and general misunderstanding of what cloud can offer and what powers the technology. So I will try and cut through the jargon. We all like a good analogy so here it goes.
Let's say you run out of space at home and don’t want to buy a new house because of expense (plus you will then be stuck with the extra costs such as maintenance, heating and services). One thing you can do is go to one of the self-storage providers and then only use the extra space for as long as you need, with none of the associated costs. Oh, and you can rent more space or downsize whenever you want.
That in its simplest terms is what you are doing with the cloud except the storage space is substituted for installing software or storing data...not your old VHS tapes and books. Although, unlike your local self-storage company, the cloud can be accessed anywhere from most devices. We at Qlik offer Qlik Sense Cloud and our demo site has the capability of expanding or contracting depending on how many people use it, without having to add more physical computers. So, in essence, you are renting computer power and space without having the physical box humming and flashing in your office.
There are many providers of this service including but not limited to Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Google. These companies have what is called a server farm, probably somewhere really cold as these servers give off a lot of heat. On a side note Microsoft are testing data centers under the sea to get over this heat problem.
One of the main stumbling blocks around widespread adoption of cloud services is security. But let’s consider this: one of the biggest hacking scandals of the last decade involved a huge multinational media organization who lost over 47,000 social security numbers and shut down its entire online gaming network (11 million users). That organization's data was stored on its own physical office-based server stack. One could make the argument that nothing is completely safe, but the risks associated with the cloud are seriously over-inflated. Most companies are very careful with where their servers are physically located as this may involve legal consequences when storing personal data.
So what’s next for the cloud? There are many very exciting initiatives out there. One I will highlight is a hybrid approach to implementation which will seamlessly integrate on-premise computing with cloud. This will enable you to pick and choose what applications run on the cloud without any change in the user experience. At Qlik we see a great future in the Cloud and have and will continue to invest in this technology, just go and take a look at what we do and just by browsing our demo site you are already using the cloud.
With all of that background, I hope now you are a little clearer in your view of the cloud (By the way I used the word cloud 16 times in this article).