Big or small, data takes up valuable storage space. And once physical storage like hard drives are full, all that data needs to be stored somewhere. This is where the cloud and cloud storage solutions come in. It’s online, on-demand and on the rise globally — so what is the cloud?

How does the cloud work?

The cloud isn’t a place, but a name for the collective online, on-demand availability of services and applications. A global network of remote servers supports and hosts the cloud and allows access to storage wherever you are in the world. Tools like Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive & Dropbox are great examples of cloud data storage that you’re possibly using already. However, systems exist in the cloud to make processing this data easier — systems such as Software as a Service (Saas) applications, like Zoom, Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace.

Such systems can be split into categories:

  • IaaS: infrastructure as a service, including raw resources like virtual servers
  • PaaS: platform as a service, a platform or online space for developing apps 
  • SaaS: software as a service, giving users access to online tools like Zoom

Where is cloud data stored?

Traditional servers are bulky, take up physical space and need advanced cooling, leading to a bigger electricity bill as well as more square footage in your business. By switching to cloud computing and storage, you can save space and money while minimising your environmental impact. But where is the cloud, exactly? Your data is held in one or more data centres, and there are many different ones owned by large companies around the world. Google uses 40 data centre regions globally, Microsoft uses more than 200 centres as of 2023 but Cloudflare has a presence in over 300. The quantity and availability of data centres help the cloud to work as a fast, reliable tool for data storage and processing around the world.

How is the cloud protected?

Holding their share of the world’s online data is a big responsibility for all data centres. And for business customers, it’s crucial to know where that data is held and how it is used. We’ve explored cybersecurity in a previous blog, and some of these measures also apply to protecting the cloud. But what specific protections exist to keep the cloud safe? In the UK, the government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) explains 14 distinct cloud security principles, including:

  • Data in transit protection
  • Asset protection and resilience 
  • Separation between customers
  • Governance framework
  • Operational security, and more.

These security principles give an easy-to-follow framework for any businesses using, accessing or storing data in the cloud. Encrypting data is another huge security aspect for anyone using cloud storage.

The future of the cloud

The cloud is infinitely flexible and provides businesses with a scalable model for data storage. So even if your needs change, there is always enough data storage in the cloud. As long as you have a reliable internet connection, with appropriate encryption and authentication to keep customer data safe, the opportunities are almost endless. 

Keep following our easy data series for more insights.


Author: John Harman

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