What is the cloud?

Though we hear the term ‘the cloud’ all the time in our personal and professional lives, it’s actually a bit of a misleading term. Firstly, there isn’t just one cloud. There are multiple ‘clouds,’ run by different cloud service providers. For example, Microsoft OneDrive is a cloud storage platform; Google Drive is another. They both use the same technology to store files and data ‘in the cloud,’ but they are not the same cloud service and files that are saved to OneDrive and Google Drive are not in the same place. 

Secondly, data isn’t actually stored ‘in the cloud.’ All data has to be stored in a physical location within a data centre. ‘The cloud’ is the technology that enables you to access that data and work with it as though it were stored on your computer, from any device and any location. The precise location of your data will depend on who is providing your cloud service, and where in the world you are. Many major providers of cloud services such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have data centres in different locations all over the world, which they use to store data that people access through cloud services like OneDrive, Google Drive, or Amazon Web Services.  

Obviously, a key component of the cloud is these data centres, and consequently companies who own and operate these data centres invest a lot of time and money into ensuring that they are not only secure but available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. An interruption of even minutes can have serious repercussions for any organisation that relies on the cloud to power its technology or data. A crucial component of that is ensuring a constant power supply to the servers inside the data centre. That includes using high quality cabling to provide power to the servers (preferably with low smoke zero halogen sheathing to protect equipment in the event of a fire), but also looking at the seamless transition of uninterruptable power supply (UPS) systems and backup generators that can provide power should the national grid fail.

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