The idea of the “Cloud” has been slowly introduced over the past few years, but rarely well explained. Many even use the Cloud every day of their lives, but when asked what it is, simply give a shrug of the shoulders and a bleary eyed “I dunno”. Very simply put, the Cloud is what we have come to know as services on the Internet. Gmail, the iPhone App Store, and Facebook are all concrete examples of Cloud computing that find their way into our daily lives. In the not-too-distant future, the Cloud will also provide such seemingly far-off services such as shared processing, where all computers on the network share processing duties.
This Cloud can be divided into two major categories, the public cloud and the private cloud. When companies put together many servers to provide email, location services, or online markets, it is called a public cloud. NAS can also be used for building public clouds and are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional servers because of their lower relative cost, flexibility, and ease-of-use. A single NAS, on the other hand, is a private cloud. This means that it provides the same services as a public cloud, but is monitored and controlled by you. You decide who has access, what services are provided, and what data is stored.
The private Cloud has a number of advantages over the public Cloud, and vice-versa. As has been shown recently with ubiquitous public Cloud services such as Gmail, PlayStation Network, and Amazon Cloud Drive being hacked or experiencing major malfunctions, the public Cloud is intrinsically vulnerable. On the other hand, private clouds will never be able to provide the range of music that the iTunes store boasts, the worldwide network of gamers that Xbox Live supports, or the GPS services of Google Maps because, frankly, we don’t own a satellite.
There will never be a war between these two options; rather the necessity of both will be revealed more and more as time goes on. They will, instead, be used synchronously. NAS already tap into the BitTorrent cloud, upload photos to Facebook, and retrieve multimedia metadata for your music library from centralized servers across the world. They are the fastest and largest backup solutions that exist, putting in perspective the great simplicity of online backup and sharing services as well as their very limited speed and storage space. Good luck backing up a 200GB hard drive on Dropbox before the year 2100! And as for HD playback…you get the picture. NAS also protect your own personal data with firewalls, passwords, and RAID and give you complete control over who can see your data and what they can do with it.
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