There are numerous services that are now available because of cloud computing. In this video, you’ll learn about cloud-hosted email, file storage, virtual application streaming, and cloud-hosted virtual desktops.
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The cloud brings with it a number of useful functions, and in this video, we’ll look at some of these cloud services.
Although the use of instant messaging is certainly increasing, one staple that every organization uses is email. There’s really no other medium of electronic communication that allows the detail that email does.
But of course, this comes at a cost. You’re going to have to buy your own servers and your own storage to keep all of those emails in your organization. You’ll need to train a group of people to manage these servers and be able to provide ongoing maintenance. And of course, you have to backup all of these systems to make sure you don’t lose any of these important emails.
With cloud-based email hosting, you don’t have to purchase any of your own servers or maintain your own software. Instead, you’re usually paying a flat cost per month per user. And if you’re using a personal email service, there may be no costs involved.
Very common email services that you might find in the cloud are Microsoft Office 365 and Google Mail.
Cloud-based file storage has also become very popular. We can store our files in a centralized, cloud-based service. We can access those files ourselves or make them shareable and have third parties access those files from anywhere they might be. This makes it very easy to collaborate, since your files are stored in the cloud. It doesn’t matter where anyone is in the world or at any particular time, they can access all of this information from that central cloud-based repository.
Many of these cloud-based services operate by setting a particular area of your drive as being the cloud-based drive. So anything you would put into that folder is automatically synchronized to the cloud with an application that you might run on your desktop.
You might also have apps running on other devices, so the moment that file is synchronized to the cloud, it’s also automatically downloaded to all of your other devices, as well. A good example of some popular cloud-based storage options are Dropbox, Google Drive, Box and Microsoft OneDrive.
The cloud also allows us to take advantage of virtual application streaming. This is effectively on demand applications. We don’t have to install any of these applications local on our computers or our mobile devices. Instead, we start the application and the application itself is streamed down to us as we’re using it.
For example, you might have a number of different icons on your desktop for different applications. When you start that application, only the components you’re using inside of that app will be downloaded and run on your local machine. If you aren’t using certain modules inside of that application, those won’t be downloaded to your system. Once you finish using the application, all of your data is stored in the cloud so the next time you start the application, all of your data will be available, regardless of where you’re using the application from.
This makes it very easy for an administrator to update the application. They don’t have to deploy new apps to everyone’s desktops or make sure that a particular system is getting the right update. Instead, they can update from one centralized location. Even if some of the data has been cached on your machine, the cache will notice that there is a new update available and download just the components that it needs.
If you’re using a mobile phone or a tablet, this application streaming can be used to run an application or part of an application in real time across the network. This means you’re able to try a lot of different kinds of applications or components of those apps without physically installing those applications onto your device.
This is common to see with things like online advertising on mobile devices that run a part of an application in real time and allow you to use that app as if it was installed on your system. The process is similar for someone using a laptop or desktop computer. You don’t have to deploy any application to the local machine. Instead, the apps are only streamed down to the system as they are used.
This also allows new applications to be added to the cloud as they’re available. And of course, applications can be updated in the cloud, as well. This means that the administrator of the application can make changes or updates to the application at any time and those changes are instantly available to your computer.
One popular way to manage the working desktop of the system is through virtual desktop infrastructure or VDI. And if you have VDI in the cloud, you’re able to extend that capability to anyone wherever they might be in the world. This allows users to have their own desktop or desktop that has been pre-built for them and they can simply log in to the cloud based VDI to use their normal desktop.
This also means that someone can access their desktop regardless of the operating system they might be using locally. This means that you might be running Mac OS locally, but be able to use your normal Windows 10 desktop in the cloud.
Because this virtual desktop is in the cloud, all of the communication from this desktop is also occurring in the cloud. You’re not sending any of your local network communication to this cloud-based virtual desktop.
That also means if you’re working on sensitive information on this virtual desktop, all of that information remains local to that desktop. And if someone was looking at the network communication between you and that virtual system, they wouldn’t see any of that sensitive information.
Let’s try using one of these virtual desktops. I’m going to log in to Amazon’s Workspaces, which allows me to set up any type of operating system I’d like as a virtual desktop. I’ve configured Windows 10 to be a virtual desktop, even though the system I’m running locally is Mac OS. But of course, this could be Linux, it could be a thin client. It could be any operating system I’d like.
Once I sign in, it’s going to connect to the cloud-based virtual desktop system and provide me with a Windows 10 desktop. Here’s my Windows 10 desktop. This is a full blown Windows 10 system, and I can load up any applications I’d like and run them on this Windows 10 infrastructure, even though everything that we’re seeing is running on this virtual desktop in the cloud.