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Online Degrees

Part of Western Governors University

October 13, 2020

Information Technology

Cloud computing: a comprehensive guide.

Lots of computers and cloud programmers

What is cloud computing?

You’ve probably read plenty of articles or seen posts on social media all about “the cloud.” You may have nodded along, but really been unsure about what “the cloud” really is and why it’s important. In order to understand how technology is changing and adapting, it’s critical to understand the cloud and cloud computing.

So what is the cloud, and what is cloud computing? The cloud is really a term to describe the internet. And cloud computing is just the delivery of services like storage or networks over the internet. 

In the world of technology and computers, your machine will have local storage. This is a hard drive that lives in your computer, or a hard drive or zip drive that you can plug in to your computer. You are the administrator of that device—you control what storage goes on it, what software programs you put on or pull off of it, your downloads, etc. If you want to run a program, you may download it to your hard drive and run it from that area of your computer.

The cloud is a different idea. It focuses on giving you options for your storage and programs through the internet, so you aren’t in charge of the direct, active management of your programs. Instead of downloading a photo editing software to your hard drive, you log into a photo editing software online. Instead of saving files to your personal computer, you save them to a shared file folder that your office has set up through a virtual network. 

Cloud technology has allowed for unprecedented amounts of security, storage space, and remote work options for people—the cloud benefits everyone, from children playing games at home, to large organizations with massive amounts of data. It’s likely that everyone is using the cloud in some form or another, making it a technology that isn’t going away anytime soon. It offers SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, and operating system options for businesses and individuals alike. Cloud computing career opportunities are in high demand as cloud technology continues to be used on such a large scale and developed to be even more useful. If you’re looking for a stable, lucrative, and exciting career, cloud computing could be for you.

This comprehensive guide to the cloud will help you understand how the cloud works for individuals and organizations, the benefits of cloud technology, and how you can earn a cloud degree that will prepare you for a variety of career paths. 

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Learn more about the WGU cloud computing degree program and see how it can prepare you for your future.

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Cloud computing examples.

Examples of cloud applications can help better explain how the cloud works, and how cloud computing impacts people every day.

The cloud is known for storage options for people and businesses alike. Google, Amazon, and Dropbox are popular storage options that are cloud applications. Google Drive allows Google users to store documents, photos, videos, and more on their personal cloud system. Amazon Photo lets users log into their Amazon account and store images. Dropbox also allows users to store and share photos, videos, documents, and other files. 

There are many software-as-a-service programs including MailChimp, Slack, and Salesforce. These cloud programs allow users to access software systems without having to download large files to their computer. Instead they can log in and access all the software elements right online, instead of having to access the program on their hard drive.

Infrastructure as a service is another important cloud offering. IaaS means that organizations can have their entire IT cloud infrastructure set up by a cloud provider, ready for them on-demand. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure are great examples of IaaS.

The Google App Engine and are popular examples of platform as a service options. These platforms allow organizations to run entire computer systems set up through the cloud. PaaS offers operating systems, web servers, and more as part of the service. Different cloud providers will have unique offerings as part of their PaaS cloud service.

Chat features and the entire web versions of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are all great examples of cloud computing. You are able to use chat features and your conversations are stored, easily able to be accessed again at a later time. 

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime—all of your favorite streaming solutions are using cloud computing. You can download Netflix onto your TV, or access it on a web browser. This is possible thanks to cloud computing. 

 Zoom and Teams allow organizations to have chat and video conference capabilities for the entire team, without needing individual software licenses. These applications allow users to access collaboration programs online, connecting wherever they are.

Public vs. private cloud.

When you think about the cloud, it’s important to understand that there are different ways people can access these services. Businesses and individuals often have different strategies for how they use the cloud. 

There are three main models used in cloud computing: public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud.

What is the public cloud?

The public cloud are cloud services that are available for anyone to use if they log in. Amazon, Microsoft Azure, and Google are all public cloud service providers. These cloud providers use their own data centers to give on-demand service to the people or organizations who sign up for their programs. Anyone is able to access the public cloud if they have a login and account. Some public cloud programs for large organizations will have a cost, but other, smaller public cloud offerings may be free for users. Individuals almost exclusively use the public cloud, and many businesses rely on public cloud offerings to help them cut down on costs and development for their organization as well.

What is the private cloud?

The private cloud is often used by businesses that want to increase their security or have high levels of bandwidth needs. An organization’s IT team will be the ones managing the cloud servers, which may be located on site or at another location in a data center. These data centers are key for cloud computing services to be successful for private cloud. Individuals can’t access the cloud unless they have specific security clearance with the organization. Organizations can run specific software programs, control their own data and sharing, run analytics, and more all with their own private cloud. 

What is a hybrid cloud?

A hybrid cloud approach is a popular option for many organizations. This allows companies to have a private cloud system for some of their most critical and secure data, while using public cloud platforms for other areas of their organization. A hybrid cloud helps businesses get the best of both worlds.

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Public cloud computing services.

There are many top cloud service providers to choose from, and it’s important to understand the different offerings and how to decide which is best for you. 

Amazon Web Services. Amazon offers web services for individuals, and more commonly for businesses both large and small. Amazon offers over 140 web-based services, from enterprise applications to security. AWS allows businesses and individuals to get crucial IT servers and infrastructure quickly and affordably. 

Google Cloud. Google also offers its own cloud services for individuals or businesses, and they include all kinds of products and services from storage to machine learning. Google Cloud helps businesses set up their entire IT infrastructure and service with a singular platform that is constantly growing. 

Microsoft Azure. Microsoft has its own cloud service system called Microsoft Azure. From business intelligence to financial services, Microsoft Azure offers a wide variety of solutions and software programs to help organizations be successful. 

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. Oracle also offers cloud services that can help organizations or individuals thrive. From data storage to analytics, they offer many different services to help businesses quickly set up IT infrastructure.

What are the advantages of cloud computing?

There are many benefits to using cloud computing for your business or company. Some of the benefits include:

  • Reduced IT costs. When you rely on the cloud for your software, data, and more, you can cut down on your own costs to build up your infrastructure, purchase individual software programs, and more. 

  • Scalability. It’s much easier to scale your business when you are relying on cloud products that are prepared for businesses both large and small. Scaling is smooth with the help of cloud systems.

  • Collaboration. It’s so much easier for your team to collaborate with the help of cloud systems. When you are using the internet, everyone can connect at the same time on the same document or project. 

  • Remote work opportunities. The cloud is the reason that remote work is possible. When employees can log in to the cloud system and access their work, they are able to do that work from anywhere. 

  • Up-to-date software. Updates happen automatically when you rely on professional organizations for your programs. You can also opt for new, fresh software if you are ready for a change or need something different.

Overall there are many benefits for choosing cloud computing services for your organization.

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Cloud computing degree.

If you find cloud computing interesting, a degree can help you learn more about how the technologies work and can be implemented in an organization. Understanding the cloud will help you in many IT specialties—more and more, the cloud is making its way into every area of IT, in every business and organization. 

In a cloud computing degree like the one offered at WGU, you’ll tackle lots of valuable coursework, including:

  • Web development

  • Networks

  • Linux foundations

  • Cloud foundations

  • Cloud applications

  • Cloud deployment

  • Scripting and programming

  • Cloud platform solutions

  • Desktop virtualization

  • Cloud architecture

A cloud computing degree will help you gain important skills and experience that will help you be ready for an exciting career. But there are important things to watch for to help you find a degree program that will work well for you. Some important things to look for in a degree program include:

Accreditation. Accreditation is key to ensuring that your degree program is valuable. Accreditation demonstrates to your potential employer and colleagues that your degree is reputable and respected. An accreditation means that your degree program meets important standards of rigor and that students graduate with the competencies they need to succeed. WGU has regional accreditation, showing that it is a valued school offering reputable degrees.

Experienced faculty. Curriculum developed by experts and faculty who know their area are key to a great degree program. WGU curriculum is developed with top cloud experts and the faculty members are experienced in cloud computing—ensuring that students get the best possible experience.

Industry collaboration. Collaboration with top players in the industry are a great indicator that a degree program is a good fit. The Bachelor of Science Degree in Cloud Computing, designed by AWS Educate and WGU, helps to prepare students for careers in emerging technologies. WGU worked with AWS to align the program of study to entry-level job requirements, ensuring that students are ready for cloud computing positions when they graduate. Students are able to earn badges, take AWS courses, and utilize mentors and job boards to help them prepare to enter the career field. Finding a degree program that offers this kind of in-depth industry partnership can help you be as prepared as possible for a great career as soon as you graduate. WGU is one of over 3,500 schools that are part of this valuable AWS program that works to connect students, institutions, and employers. The AWS Academy curriculum also helps prepare students to take AWS Certification exams. This ensures that students are well prepared for a cloud computing career based on the current industry demands. Learn more about AWS and WGU.

Cloud certifications. Certifications go hand-in-hand with degrees in the IT industry. Certs demonstrate to employers that you are equipped with specific skills and tools that can help you be successful. There are many great certifications that can help cloud professionals prepare for their future, boost their résumé, and enhance their offering. These certs include:

  • Amazon AWS SysOps Administration–Associate

  • CompTIA A+ 

  • CompTIA Cloud Essentials+ 

  • CompTIA Cloud+

  • CompTIA Network+ 

  • CompTIA Security+

  • CompTIA Project+ 

  • ITIL®1 Foundation Certification

  • LPI Linux Essentials

There are many certifications you can choose from, but it’s valuable to research and find the certs that will be the most valuable for your ideal career path. The quantity of certifications you have isn’t as important as the quality, so it is valuable to find out which certifications are most important in your chosen job title. 

View cloud computing degree.

Learn more about the WGU cloud computing degree program and see how it can prepare you for your future.

View Degree

Cloud computing career.

In the realm of cloud computing there are many career positions to choose from. Learning about different cloud opportunities will help you understand which job title is the best fit for you.

A cloud administrator manages all the cloud systems and cloud servers for an organization. They are tasked with maintaining user licenses, software rules and regulations, security, and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for systems administrators is around $82,000 per year. The lowest 10% of workers earn an average of $50,000 per year, and the highest 10% earn more than $130,000 per year. This will greatly vary on the type of organization you work for, as well as your experience and education. The BLS predicts that systems administration careers will grow 5% in the next ten years. This is on par with the national average for job growth. As more organizations need cloud systems, the demand for these positions will continue to grow. 

Cloud engineers are in charge of all cloud software for an organization, both on the private and public cloud. They develop systems, maintain them, and stay ahead of new technology to be ready for upgrades and improvements. They help an organization design new systems or upgrade to new systems. A cloud engineer salary is likely to be over $130,000, with salary levels largely depending on location and experience.

Cloud consultants work with clients to help them understand their cloud needs, teaching them about cloud systems and how they can help solve their problems. Cloud consultants earn an average annual salary of $111,000, but salaries can vary based on your education, experience, and location. 

Cloud architects are responsible for overseeing a company’s cloud computing strategy. They oversee the application architecture and deployment of cloud systems and help an organization stay up-to-date on cloud technology. According to the BLS, computer network architects can expect to earn an average yearly salary of $109,020. The lowest 10% of computer network architects earn around $60,000, with the highest 10% earning over $164,000 each year. A cloud computing degree can prepare you to become a specialized computer network architect, which is extremely valuable in organizations that utilize cloud systems.

If you’re considering a future in cloud computing, a degree is the perfect place to start. A cloud degree will help you understand how to work on computer systems and programs, all with the cloud as an important factor. WGU is a perfect place to start your career in cloud computing.

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