What is the cloud? Why should you care?

Posted by Scott Phillips on 30th Dec 2022

What is the cloud?  Why should you care?

Almost everyone has heard about the Cloud, but very few people really know what it is or why it is important.  For most people, the cloud is a mystery.  With this post, we'll provide a very simple explanation of why the Cloud is a big deal and matters to all of us.

The Cloud matters because it is a technology and innovation revolution.  The graphic below offers a very simple illustration of why this is the case based on three levels.

Level 1: At the foundational level of Cloud Providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP) are massive data centers full of physical servers, storage, network, and security services at scale. Providers offer infrastructure hosting for clients. This is called Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). This is what most people think of when they think ‘Cloud.’  Data centers.  Really big data centers.

Level 2: Cloud Providers have also created all of the software components needed to build a new software application on top of their infrastructure. Think of these as building blocks, like Legos. For example, on AWS all of the pieces, components, and services that make up creating an e-commerce platform like Amazon.com have been turned into building blocks and services that anyone else can use, too. They are built native to the cloud. They are easy to use and low cost. Companies like AWS typically don’t charge for license costs or maintenance.  Using these components makes creating anything new much cheaper, easier, and faster than it ever was before.  That is what is driving an innovation revolution.

Level 3: Cloud Providers are also using their own building blocks to create new and innovative solutions at an unprecedented pace and scale. One example is Amazon’s ‘Just Walk Out’ solution for retail.  Amazon opened 20 stores around the country and tested it with real customers.  Another example is the AWS IoT TwinMaker solution that provides a full solution that makes it easy to create a digital twin of a physical entity in the real world.  That real-world physical thing could be a jet engine, a bridge, or a school building packed with sensors.  It's digital twin allows real-time monitoring of the sensor data streaming in so you know instantly if there is something wrong.   Cloud Providers like AWS, Azure, and GCP are creating new solutions at an unprecedented rate.

These three levels describe what the Cloud really is and why it is driving a technology and innovation revolution that will impact every one of us now and in the future. 

For companies big and small, it has never been easier or cheaper to create new software products. It's not just the Cloud Providers creating new products on the Cloud.  It's everyone.  And innovation is the driver of new growth and new revenue.  In fact, those bright people at McKinsey Consulting have estimated that the Global 2000 largest companies in the world could achieve a total of $3 Trillion in value from cost savings and new growth from using the cloud by 2030. 

And that’s just the biggest 2,000 companies. There are hundreds of thousands of innovative companies all over the world that are trying new things on the Cloud every day.  New business, new services, new ideas, new innovations.   That's what the Cloud really is.   

What all of this means is that the Cloud is creating a huge innovation revolution that is already touching our everyday lives.  It's not just Netflix.  It's the thousands of companies trying new things and offering new services.  

This is why learning about the Cloud is important and worth a little effort even if you don't plan to be an engineer or IT professional.  We all need to get a little smarter and savvier about this revolution taking place right in our very midst because it is changing our world - for better or worse. 

With Cloud Astronauts, we try to make learning about the Cloud fun and engaging with our own quirky, geeky take on learning by using space as a theme with practical, hands-on, and accessible missions & labs that anyone and everyone can do – no coding or technical skills required.

We hope you will join us and learn more.