The Cloud: Nebulous, but Nimble

When it comes to Silicon Valley buzzwords, “the cloud” is one of the most ubiquitous and one of the most misunderstood. The cloud is essentially a network of computers that share resources amongst themselves in order to work more efficiently. When a business uploads information to the cloud, it is really sending it to a collection of servers in a building somewhere else. When a business uses a service or application on the cloud, it is accessing said service or application on a computer in a secondary location. The cloud, at its core, is really a large collection of computers that someone else owns, but which store information in a compartmentalized and secure fashion.

The cloud has expanded rapidly over the last few years, and it is continuing to change how businesses operate. The services offered on the cloud range from storage to software-defined data centers (SDDCs) to applications that offer software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS) capabilities. Each of these allows companies to tailor their usage of the cloud to meet their specific business needs. Additionally, the U.S. government is making use of the cloud at an accelerating rate. This has been happening for the same reason that businesses find the cloud useful – it is cheaper and more reliable. For example, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the government was able to save $3.6 billion between 2011 and 2014 by increasing usage of the cloud. Even the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense are switching over to the cloud, in an effort to both save money and improve security.

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