What is a Cloud? What is Cloud Computing?

The terms cloud and cloud computing are thrown around a lot, but what do they really mean? In this article, we give a clear explanation of the different terms.

The term "cloud" is a shortened form of "cloud computing".

Cloud computing

In a nutshell: The term cloud refers to the interaction of multiple servers. The servers take on tasks such as data storage or complex programme sequences. The cloud user does not know how many servers are running behind the cloud.

Even if one server fails, the entire system is not affected. This independence from individual servers is called cloud because the user does not need to have an overview of the individual units (cloudy/unclear for the user). The cloud is the big picture of these computing units.

So cloud does not mean that your data is transmitted exclusively via "clouds" or satellites. It all happens on the ground, using your "normal" internet connection via radio towers, routers, cables and data centres.

Important Basics

A lot of blogs are about services that provide storage in the cloud. But this is only one use case. You can also run your own software in the cloud. The different models: Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service are explained in more detail in the Cloud A-Z below.

Cloud services give access to much larger amounts of storage. You can use your data in the cloud from anywhere in the world. You can run more complex software than ever before. And you can connect your devices more effectively.

Of course, all this comes with risks. With the right credentials, others can also access the cloud, whether it is intelligence services, other government agencies or companies with immense market power. For this reason, we have included offers on this page that promise a secure cloud.

Another drawback of the cloud should not be forgotten: without the internet, there is no cloud. Even though we can access the internet from more and more places these days, you should always remember that your data is stored on a different storage device, which you can often only access via the internet.

The Cloud A-Z

There are many other cloud-related terms that come up when talking about the cloud and cloud computing. You can find an explanation of these terms in the Cloud A-Z.

  • Business Cloud: his website uses this term to identify offerings aimed at businesses. Find out more here.
  • Cloud Computing: See above, refers to the interaction of multiple servers that can take on tasks as a whole, such as providing storage space.
  • Community Cloud: Refers to the cloud as a (local) community project. A group of users come together and share the costs of the project. For example, a Community Cloud might be shared by several universities or colleges.
  • Hybrid Cloud: A combination of Private Cloud and Public Cloud, depending on individual requirements.
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): Unlike PaaS and SaaS, IaaS operates at the lowest level, the hardware configuration. With this cloud service, you are provided with servers that you divide into your own virtual computer cluster, i.e. computer networks. You are responsible for selecting any software.
  • Multi Cloud: Based on the idea of the Hybrid Cloud, several cloud offerings are linked and bundled together.
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS): All cloud software offers more than just storage and therefore goes beyond a NAS. If, for example, your own hard drive is made available on the network via your router, this is called NAS - storage that is available via the network.
  • NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology, USA): The US institute has developed a definition of the cloud. See the next section on this page for more details.
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): PaaS operates at the 2nd level between IaaS and SaaS. You get access to a fully configured software environment where you can run your own software, for example.
  • Private Cloud: Your own computing structure or cloud. This can be an internal company cloud or a small cloud server in your living room (see instructions).
  • Public Cloud: IT infrastructure or a cloud that is publicly available to everyone. On our website we also refer to providers as cloud hosters (see examples).
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): Also known as software on demand. You can use selected software that runs on servers in the cloud. You have limited control over the software. Even some web applications, such as an online office, can be described as SaaS.
  • Virtual Private Cloud: A public cloud is accessed through a local (virtual) environment. Security is usually provided by a VPN.
Cloud Server

Cloud server

Learn more about the highly available public SIM-Cloud

Learn more

Definition for Cloud Computing

Fortunately, there is actually a definition of cloud computing drawn up by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This definition has not only influenced our Cloud A-Z with terms such as Multi Cloud & Co, but also includes some key criteria.

It lists 5 characteristics that are specific to cloud computing:

  1. on-demand self-service: he user can access cloud resources at any time without human intervention.
  2. access using familiar technologies ("broad network access"): Users can access the cloud through their Internet connection and clients. This means that devices such as personal computers, smartphones and tablets can be used to access the cloud.
  3. resource pooling: Server capacity is pooled and appears to the user as a single cloud, with no individual server identifiable.
  4. rapid elasticity: The resources available to the individual user can be adjusted, possibly even automatically. This gives the user the impression of unlimited storage space.
  5. service monitoring ("measured service"): This does not refer to the monitoring of the data itself. Within the cloud, each server is automatically monitored and optimised.

Applying these criteria to a cloud service you are familiar with will give you an idea of what a cloud can be and how broad the concept of the cloud is.

We hope that this page has given you a clear explanation of the cloud and cloud computing. Are you interested in storage in a cloud? You can set up your own cloud or learn more about clouds for businesses.

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