So, you’re hearing all this hype about the “cloud.” Everyone’s talking about it, but seldom do they know what they’re really referring to. Now, this new “cloud” term is being slapped on everything; even things that aren’t really “cloud-based.” How can you distinguish between the cloud and regular online services?
Let’s have a look at what each of them does:
- Cloud services allow you to access their interfaces from any network-connected device and synchronize the product across all devices you use, whereas a regular Web service is usually made to cater to one single device.
- Regular Web-based services allow you to log in to a platform that usually caters to one device at a time. A web-based service is usually hosted on its own dedicated server or on a shared platform.
Gmail is an example of a Web-based service. You can literally log in to the same account on two computers simultaneously, but it’s not the same as having a synced directory of everything you store.
Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive are great examples of cloud services. With Google Drive, you get to connect, share, access, and sync documents, spreadsheets, and other files you store on their servers across multiple devices and use them even on devices that aren’t logged into an account. In fact, you can also create new documents from within the platform without installing anything on your computer. Microsoft SkyDrive provides a similar functionality.
Web-based services might also let you create things. WordPress lets you create new content to publish on your blog, and people can access the blog, but it’s usually done in a public environment. This isn’t a cloud service simply because it’s essentially interpreting input and outputting something. It’s not really a piece of complex software like what you’d see in cloud services.
In the end, there’s one big difference between the two: Cloud services offer you more power over what you do within their environments. They allow you to leverage a system that’s hosted on a virtual infrastructure rather than on a dedicated server.
Let’s make this even simpler: Google Drive is a cloud service, SkyDrive is cloud-based, Office 365 is a cloud service; but GoDaddy, BlueHost, and WordPress aren’t.
Hopefully, you got enough out of this to make a significant distinction!