Cloud Computing and Databases: Technology to Improve Database Management

Cloud Computing and Databases: Technology to Improve Database Management
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  • 0:05 Where Are Your Files?
  • 2:44 Cloud Computing
  • 4:59 Security and Privacy Concerns
  • 5:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Paul Zandbergen

Paul has a PhD from the University of British Columbia and has taught Geographic Information Systems, statistics and computer programming for 15 years.

Cloud computing uses a network of computers to provide services that otherwise would be provided by a single computer or computer server. Learn how cloud computing works and how it allows you to use the same database on multiple devices in this video lesson.

Where Are Your Files?

You've probably heard of 'the cloud,' as the place where a lot of data is stored. What exactly is the cloud? Let's consider a scenario you may have experienced yourself.

You are sitting at home, working on a somewhat lengthy e-mail on your laptop. Your phone rings and your friend invites you out for coffee. You're not quite done with your e-mail yet so you hit 'Save.' You meet your friend at a nearby coffee shop. After coffee you decide to linger around and return to your e-mail. You open up your e-mail on your phone, do some tweaking on your e-mail message and hit 'Send.' You return home and a little later you get a reply to your e-mail.

So here's the $64,000 question: How did your saved e-mail get from your laptop to your phone? More broadly speaking, where are all your e-mails stored? Or for that matter, where are all your files stored?

Well, some files are most likely stored on the hard drive of your computer. For example, if you open up a word processing application, type up an essay and save it on the local drive on your computer. You can open up a file management application and see the file sitting there on your drive. But what about your e-mail, or your bank account information or your status updates on a social network?

Let's say your e-mail address is '' You signed up online with the ABC Company to use their e-mail system. This means they run computer systems to manage all the e-mails for you; the e-mails do not typically reside on your local computer. So when you hit 'Save' on your laptop, the e-mail is stored on one of the computer servers of the ABC Company. When you access your e-mail on your phone, the e-mail is downloaded from these servers. Then when you hit 'Send,' it is routed by these servers to the recipient. That's the answer to the $64,000 question.

So what if the physical address of the ABC Company is 123 Main St, Smalltown, USA? What if you were to go to that address and walk into their office? Could you find an actual computer or a hard drive where that one specific e-mail is stored and could you find it? Possibly, but not likely. It is much more likely that the ABC Company runs a number of different servers in different locations and your specific e-mail could be anywhere in the system. The ABC Company may not actually have its own computer servers and instead rent out storage from another company, so your e-mail message could literally be stored anywhere in the world. Welcome to the cloud!

Cloud Computing

So what exactly is cloud computing? Cloud computing uses a large number of networked computers to provide services to users, such as running software applications, accessing databases and file storage. These are normally services you would get from a single computer or from a computer server. In the cloud, however, you cannot point to one single computer as the device that is providing you the service - it's the entire network.

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