The basics of cloud computing

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The Basics of Cloud Computing
Alexa Huth and James Cebula

What is the cloud?
Cloud computing is receiving a great deal of attention, both in publications and among users,
from individuals at home to the U.S. government. Yet it is not always clearly defined.1 Cloud
computing is a subscription-based service where you can obtain networked storage space and
computer resources. One way tothink of cloud computing is to consider your experience with
email. Your email client, if it is Yahoo!, Gmail, Hotmail, and so on, takes care of housing all of
the hardware and software necessary to support your personal email account. When you want to
access your email you open your web browser, go to the email client, and log in. The most
important part of the equation is having internet access.Your email is not housed on your
physical computer; you access it through an internet connection, and you can access it anywhere.
If you are on a trip, at work, or down the street getting coffee, you can check your email as long
as you have access to the internet. Your email is different than software installed on your
computer, such as a word processing program. When you create a documentusing word
processing software, that document stays on the device you used to make it unless you physically
move it. An email client is similar to how cloud computing works. Except instead of accessing
just your email, you can choose what information you have access to withi n the cloud.

How can you use the cloud?
The cloud makes it possible for you to access your information from anywhere atany time.
While a traditional computer setup requires you to be in the same location as your data storage
device, the cloud takes away that step. The cloud removes the need for you to be in the same
physical location as the hardware that stores your data. Your cloud provider can both own and
house the hardware and software necessary to run your home or business applications.
This isespecially helpful for businesses that cannot afford the same amount of hardware and
storage space as a bigger company. Small companies can store their information in the cloud,
removing the cost of purchasing and storing memory devices. Additionally, because you only

1

For more information please see The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing athttp://csrc.nist.gov/publications/drafts/800-145/Draft-SP-800-145_cloud-definition.pdf.
© 2011 Carnegie Mellon University. Produced for US-CERT, a government organization.

1

need to buy the amount of storage space you will use, a business can purchase more space or
reduce their subscription as their business grows or as they find they need less storage space.
One requirement is that you need to have an internet connection in order to accessthe cloud.
This means that if you want to look at a specific document you have housed in the cloud, you
must first establish an internet connection either through a wireless or wired internet or a mobile
broadband connection. The benefit is that you can access that same document from wherever you
are with any device that can access the internet. These devices could be a desktop, laptop,tablet,
or phone. This can also help your business to function more smoothly because anyone who can
connect to the internet and your cloud can work on documents, access software, and store data.
Imagine picking up your smartphone and downloading a .pdf document to review instead of
having to stop by the office to print it or upload it to your laptop. This is the freedom that the
cloud can providefor you or your organization.

Types of clouds
There are different types of clouds that you can subscribe to depending on your needs. As a
home user or small business owner, you will most likely use public cloud services.
1. Public Cloud - A public cloud can be accessed by any subscriber with an internet connection
and access to the cloud space.
2. Private Cloud - A private cloud is...
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