Cloud Storage vs Cloud Computing

The Difference between Cloud Storage and Cloud Computing

Cloud Storage and Cloud Computing

The term "The Cloud" means different things to different people. It can mean Cloud Storage or it can mean Cloud Computing. But what is the difference between Cloud Storage and Cloud Computing ? We'll try to explain below.

Cloud Storage

Cloud Storage means you can store your files on someone else's hard disk(s) that you can access over the internet. So you can access those files from your office or from home or from a mobile device as long as you have an internet connecion. This means you can work on a spreadsheet in the office, for example, then save it back to "the cloud" and access the same file later from home. You don't have to take the file with you on a memory stick. If you need more space, you can normally pay a small fee and get extra storage at the flash of a credit card. Hopefully access to the files is secure so no-one else can view or edit or delete the files unless you have given them permission. Hopefully the files are backed up safely so the files are always there when you want to access them. So Cloud Storage is all about storage for your files. When you work on those files, you do so on your own PC, laptop, tablet or other mobile device. Cloud Storage is just somewhere to store your files.

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing means you can run some software on someone else's PC or Server. Often this would be for you to run your web site for example. If you want to run your web site on your own PCs or Servers, you would need to purchase enough hardware and enough software licenses to cope with the heaviest demand your web site will ever get. Otherwise, at times of heavy load, your web site will be unavailable to some users.

If you use Cloud Computing, the idea is that you can use as few or as many PCs or Servers as you need whenever you need them. So you can cope with the smallest or the heaviest load on your web site or your database or whatever software you need to run. When the load is less, you use less PCs to run the software and hence the cost is less. When the load is higher, you can use more PCs to run the software and hence the cost is higher but only as long as you need the extra PCs.

So Cloud Computing is about running Software on as much computing power as you need when you need it.

Can I run my Microsoft Access Database on DropBox ?

We are often asked if a Microsoft Access database or a Microsoft SQL Server Database can run on DropBox or iCloud. The answer is no because DropBox and iCloud are Cloud Storage not Cloud Computing. Microsoft Access and Microsoft SQL Server Databases need to run on Microsoft Windows so they need to run on a PC or Server running Windows. In fact, if you only have one user, you could in theory store your Microsoft Access database in DropBox. But if ever two or more users tried to access the database it would result in lost data.

Cloud Thinking

So think of Cloud Storage as hundreds of hard disks that are waiting to store your files. And think of Cloud Computing as hundreds of PCs that are waiting to run your web site or database.