A Senior Cloud Architect Explains What The Cloud Is

We hear a lot about the cloud. It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot. 

One of those buzzwords, you know? 

And although it’s been around for over a decade now, the world is really catching up to what the cloud can do for business at a fundamental, or a foundational, level. 

  • IDC Forecasts Worldwide “Whole Cloud” Spending to Reach £1.3 Trillion by 2025.
  • Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Public Cloud End-User Spending to Reach Nearly £500 Billion in 2022.

Effectively, the cloud is changing business and what technology enables you to do.

That’s why it’s important to understand that the cloud is:

A Whole Bunch of Servers

As an example, this is a scenario that many of us might be familiar with.

Someone says the servers are down. And when someone says the servers are down, there’s a team of technical engineers wailing in the background.

But what it means to you conceptually is that there is a computer. A big computer. Which is essentially doing specific types of processing to enable you to do your job.

Now, when we take a look at the server being down, historically, this has been a problem that has been tied to a power issue at a building or a piece of hardware that has failed.

Basically, if the server is down, it’s a difficult problem to solve because servers are expensive. They’re big pieces of hardware.

So we wanted to start treating this like a consumption model. Now, the consumption model is smart because it allows me to use the full capabilities of this hardware, which I haven’t actually even bought. 

I still get the benefit of using massive, state-of-the art servers based on a company that’s able to build thousands of these things out of pure efficiency.

So when we look at the cloud, the cloud is a whole bunch of servers. I’m talking about hundreds of thousands, if not millions of servers. It’s a massive computing array that gives us compute, memory and a big platform to use it on.

And it gives us a lot of redundancy, which means that if the server goes down and we’ve done our job properly on a technical level, it just isn’t on the server. 

So it just works. The server doesn’t break down anymore.

A Massive Network

The cloud is one huge network.

I’m not talking about your office network. It might span nine floors in a building or across a campus in an office park. I’m talking about a global, scalable undersea, over-the-air through satellites, massive network.

It is huge.

Big investment gets made into the size, scale, redundancy and speed of the network that powers the cloud operators these days. 

And there are a few major ones. 

So there’s a massive network, far faster and far more superior than what you plan on putting into your office block. It’s the same effect. Their focus is to build good networks and build good service, your focus is to run your business.

More Storage Than You Can Count

This means that there’s no space constraints.

Theoretically, there is no limit to how much data we can store in the cloud.I know, technically we can say, yes, there is an amount.

But from a user or consumer perspective or from you as a business owner, there’s unlimited storage. It’s in the cloud.

Bear in mind, you do pay for it. However, you are theoretically unlimited.

If you need more space, more space is available. There’s no questions around that.

It is also highly scalable. Which means that there’s more of it and there’s duplication of it and there’s the ability to duplicate it even further. 

So I never lose my data.

Once again, good design has to come into this. It does require some good engineering in the background, but the capability is there more so than what it ever was.

Some Pretty Big Security Gates

This is one of the biggest blockers to cloud adoption that I’ve seen across the board. It’s the fear that systems are unsecure, and data is not secure.

The hyperscalers, which is the term that we actually use for Cloud operators, like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, invest a lot of money in making sure that the cloud is secure. 

To the point that they have put so much effort, design, research and spend into security that you can’t match that in trying to build this out privately.

And yes, even if you did try to, you might get scales thereof, but you won’t have the management team that they do.

Security is the biggest credibility factor and is what they spend a lot of time and effort money on.

A Collection of Easy-to-Use, Pre-Built Solutions

Now, if you take a look at the cloud as a bit of a layered approach, that’s the foundation. 

Those components are what you need for a cloud. 

But the smart folk at all the hyperscalers have taken it one step further. They’ve thought about how to give customers some pre-built, out-of-the-box solutions to common problems across different industries, like medical, logistics, or even airlines.

They’ve prepackaged generalized, fully managed solutions. It means your engineering team doesn’t focus on building, but more running and quicker time to deployment. 

So they’ve gone and built a suite of applications, systems, technologies, whatever you want to call it, in such a way that I can, at the click of a button, have a back end for a specific problem to be solved.

What that means is that I don’t have to worry about whether the server is running or not. As a technology professional, I don’t have to worry about if the network is working.

  • It’s all fully managed.
  • It’s all fully working.
  • It’s orchestrated.
  • It’s curated.
  • It is security checked.

And they pull these solutions and put them together in such a way that businesses can focus on what businesses do best. 

A bank can focus on being a bank. A hospital can focus on being a hospital and saving those lives. A logistics company can focus on getting a package to you on time.

They don’t have to worry about some of the intrinsic details of the technology back-end.

A Huge Support Team

This is all enabled by a huge support team, a massive support team. 

We’re talking about thousands of people. If not hundreds of thousands of people.

And on top of that, they employ partner networks. So you might be dealing with your local technology provider who is now certified as an AWS, Azure, Google Cloud or Oracle partner, which means that they are technically proficient enough to sell, use and operate those technologies.

It’s not just people that work directly for these hyperscalers. 

It’s the whole partner network and the people that are invested in this ecosystem to bring that value to customers.

So you could potentially be dealing with a guy down the road that knows this technology. Which is great because it brings the cloud closer to my business and it means that I’m interacting with someone from my neighbourhood, community, or city that knows what they’re doing in the cloud.

If you take a look at the cloud as a bunch of layers, like a delicious cake, we’ve got a whole bunch of servers, a massive network, more storage than we can count, and some pretty big security gates. That’s the first layer.

That’s the base of the cake.

Then you’ve got a collection of prebuilt solutions.So this is where the hyperscalers are going to put together different solutions that can be built, scaled and used by various industries. 

And that’s sort of the nice filling on the cake.

And then we’ve got this huge support team which covers all of this, and makes sure it all runs. That’s the icing.

Feeling Familiar With The Cloud?

The cloud offers exciting and new ways to look at your existing IT ecosystem and the potential that you have as an organisation. 

Remember: The cloud is a collection of compute, network, storage and security that enables us to expand our businesses and expand our application reach without having to invest in on-premise.

The possibilities are (virtually) endless.

Want more inside information on the cloud and its capabilities? Our Senior Cloud Architect, Brendon De Meyer has you covered! 

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