Basically, a cloud storage system works by hooking together a network of distributed servers that are managed by a third party service provider, which controls them through a central server. These servers are then separated from each other into distinct, compartmentalized data “pools” that can be rented by customers for their own use and storage capacity needs. The storage server providers can work from the background, virtualizing the server space into an interface that the customers can easily use.
The key element of cloud storage is its remote accessibility, the fact that this “cloud” of interconnected storage servers can then be accessed from any web connected computer or device by a client.
Let’s go over this in more detail and cover the most common ways in which both businesses and people use the cloud.
1. Remote Accessibility
This is quite obviously the fundamental benefit of all cloud storage architecture and the main reason so many companies, organizations and businesses are integrating the storage cloud into their lives. With cloud storage (as we’ll see in the following examples) an individual at one node with cloud access can upload data, software or files of any kind and give instant access to these files to one or more other individuals on their own web/cloud connected computers or devices anywhere else, even on the other side of the world.
2. Data Security
There are still significant debates going on about the security of data that’s stored in a cloud. Since implementing viable encryption and dealing with the more open nature of remote storage clouds both issues that are still under development, many people consider the cloud to be a potential danger due to hacker and automated malware threats.
While these are valid concerns that still need to be sorted out, cloud storage is absolutely and undeniably secure in one fundamental way; it protects your data by keeping it offsite and in a geographically distributed system. This means that all your valuable personal files or your reams of business and organizational or financial files are totally secure from even the worst possible disasters that might befall your workplace or home. Even regional or national catastrophes might not affect your data. The importance of this can’t be understated, considering that in many homes and especially businesses, the stored intellectual property is worth far more than any physical infrastructure someone owns.
It’s also worth mentioning that a person or organization which is worried about intrusion based data security can always deal with potential cloud storage problems by first encrypting all their data right on their own machine and then uploading it’s encoded copy to the remote storage system; as long as anyone this information is going to be shared with also has access to the decryption passkey, the data is completely intrusion proof.
Common Cloud Storage Uses
Having gone over how cloud storage works and its two fundamental benefits, let’s cover all the uses that businesses and people can get from this technological innovation.
1. Work Sharing
A very common reason for why people buy into cloud storage is because of the systems work sharing capability. If you operate a business or any other kind of collaborative organization that involves different people who are scattered across a large geographical area, they can then send each other large amounts of data indirectly by updating it to the cloud and then later downloading it at the other end or even working on the data from within the cloud itself.
This model allows easy, quick access and collaboration of work info on a constant basis between many people simultaneously; meaning it’s perfect for projects and business cooperation.
2. Automatic Synching of Projects and Work Across Multiple Machines and Locations
Cloud based storage is also great as a tool for instantly synching your work across different interconnected devices. Thus, if you’ve advanced far on your work project in one machine and then later continue on another device where the project is also stored but not so far along, you can instantly update to the latest, most advanced version. In business or organizational settings, this allows a lot of quick, transfer free project updating and work advancement since the office doesn’t actually travel with employees but simply gets synched to the next machine they access the cloud from.
In home based settings, the same tactics and uses apply but on a smaller scale, letting family members, friends or individuals share and synch different files, photo albums, videos, etc across each other’s or their own different devices quickly and automatically (many cloud storage services can be automated into updating changes in the files they store across different machines).
Naturally, due to the above mentioned benefits and uses, one further use of cloud storage is going to involve telecommuting to work instead of showing up at an office and wasting both time and money on travel. Thanks to the storage cloud in all its capacities, more and more office workers are telecommuting while more and more small business owners are setting up offices that have no physical location, relying on cloud storage, other tools and subcontracted freelancers to help them run their business.
This trend is only continuing to expand and helping both companies and workers that are either formally employed or freelancers.
4. Shared Use of Software and even Hardware
Another, slightly more sophisticated benefit of cloud storage is its ability to be used as a software and applications storage system in addition to simple data storage and sharing. By hosting software applications inside their cloud provider’s servers, a person or business owner can give access to these same apps to others that they know or work with. In a home setting, this is useful for all sorts of money-saving entertainment and even work related reasons, and in a business environment, cloud storage of software apps applies even more effectively. With it, business owners can not only pass information to their employees or collaborators, they can also share digital work tools with them
About the Author: Marty Reardon writes about storage in Peoria for Next Door Self Storage. When he’s not consumed with his writing, he tries to keep with the latest tech trends.