What is cloud technology? A guide for new users.

What is cloud technology and how does it work? Get answers to these questions—and more—in our easy-to-read, comprehensive guide for professionals.

minute read

Last Updated January 17, 2024

Category Cloud hosting

Man looking at his computer, presumably using cloud technology.


Whether your desk is the kitchen table or a fancy automatic sit-stand model, the laptop sitting on its surface is already out of date.

The fact is that technology improves at an exponential pace. And businesses don’t have the budget to keep buying the latest and greatest model for everyone in their workforce—nor should they have to.

So, how do businesses of every demographic, vertical and size know which technology will get their business the furthest, long-term? That’s simple: the cloud.

The cloud offers the latest technological advancements at a fraction of the cost it would take to match its capabilities.

And while most people have heard of the cloud, many do not know what it can offer to them as individuals, as employees or to the business they work for.

If you’re one of those people, keep reading to learn:

  • What is the cloud?
  • How does cloud technology work?
  • What are the benefits of cloud technology?

What is the cloud, exactly?

Image with the following text: The cloud is a place where people go to store information. The cloud is a place where people go to find information. The cloud is accessible from any internet-connected device.
The cloud is a place where people go to store and find information. Any internet-connected device has access to the cloud.

Simply stated, the “cloud” is a metaphor for the internet.

And, like the internet:

  • The cloud is a place where people go to store information.
  • The cloud is a place where people go to find information.
  • The cloud is accessible from any internet-connected device, as in:
    • You can connect to it via 5G on your smartphone while riding the train.
    • You can connect to it via Wi-Fi on your laptop while sitting in your favorite coffee shop.
    • You can connect to it via ethernet cable while sitting in your cubicle at work.

When you hear “cloud,” think of the internet.

The reason why the internet is great (and one of the reasons why it can be not-so-great) is because the information that the internet contains will be there forever.

All this information is accessible from anywhere that has an internet connection. Whether you’re on your smartphone while riding the commuter line, playing email catch-up at Starbucks or sitting behind your computer at home.

Now, when you think of “the cloud,” remember the internet metaphor. And remember that no matter where you are or what you’re using, as long as the technology can connect to the internet—you can connect to the cloud.

How does cloud technology work?

We like the way the “How It Works” website answered that by getting down to the core question: “Where’s my stuff?”

“Two words: data centers. Anything you’ve uploaded to the cloud, or that you run from the cloud, exists on dedicated servers…” How It Works

Obviously, information stored in the cloud isn’t floating around in the sky. It’s housed in data centers, on servers and protected by the people who own that server.

Since there are different types of cloud services, the provider will employ different levels of safeguards to protect the information running on those servers.

Learn more about the security and precautions cloud providers must take.

Atmospheric conditions: Public vs. private clouds

Close-up image of servers in a server room.
Choosing whether you should run on private or public cloud technology depends entirely on your business type, budget and preference.

While it’s conceptually accurate to distill the cloud down to simply “the internet,” there are several types of clouds that make up the technology—and each has its own set of benefits.

Private cloud

A private cloud is for businesses that want to know, down to the server’s coordinates, where their data is stored.

This typically has to do with the size of the business, the types of applications and software they use, compliance with strict regulations, or preference.

Public cloud

A public cloud is for businesses that want cloud benefits without the initial investment of a physical server. A public cloud is faster to set up and doesn’t require additional hardware as a business grows.

The word public does not mean that this type of cloud is open and accessible to everyone.

In fact, a public cloud is completely private for each user who accesses information. Put simply, User A is only able to access User B’s cloud if User B gives permission.

Benefits of cloud technology

What are the benefits of cloud technology? Well, where do we begin to answer that? Let’s start with this quote from IBM:

“Cloud computing transforms IT infrastructure into a utility: It lets you ‘plug into’ infrastructure via the internet and use computing resources without installing and maintaining them on-premises.” IBM

When your IT infrastructure—apps, software, data and information—are housed offsite with a cloud provider, you no longer need to worry about maintaining that infrastructure. That means:  More time to run your business. Fewer IT headaches.  More billable hours.  More money is being made. 
Benefits of the cloud? Fewer responsibilities, fewer IT headaches, more money. Need I say more?

Why would I want to access my software in the cloud?

The easier question to ask? Why wouldn’t you?

When you move your software to the cloud, it immediately gains features that make it easier, safer and faster to use.

  1. You can pick up where you last left off on your next device if your current device crashes, is stolen or simply won’t turn on. Cloud data is stored in multiple secure locations around the country—meaning it’ll be ready to work when you are.
  2. You can access an uncompromised version of the latest data backup if a data breach occurs. Mistakes happen. Bad links are clicked. We encourage everyone to exhibit caution when opening, clicking or browsing anything while connected online. In case of an emergency, the cloud ensures that an uncompromised version of your data stays protected. (Literally by armed guards if you’re a Rightworks customer).
  3. You won’t have to learn the online or smartphone versions of the software. It doesn’t matter if you access the cloud from your smartphone, tablet, laptop or workstation—the software will look and work the same as the desktop version you’re used to.
  4. You’ll worry less about hackers accessing your or your clients’ data since it’s safest in the cloud. When you put software in the cloud, you’ll get an enterprise-level security team whose responsibilities include making sure the cloud remains accessible to those who need it—and inaccessible to those who don’t.
  5. You can collaborate directly with teammates and clients in the software at the same time. Rather than send email attachments, physically receive files or get a stack of receipts from a client, you can grant cloud access and limit permissions to those responsible for providing information.
  6. You can work very fast in the cloud. Every type of device has a limited amount of space. After a lot of software installations and file saving, they start slowing down. If a firm is tech-savvy, it may solve this problem by storing data in-house on a server, external hard drive or USB. But without proper security measures, USBs, external hard drives and in-house servers are all high-risk solutions. For ease of accessibility, do you really want to keep track of where you store each client’s information—then have to physically find it—every single time you need it?

By moving your software off your computer and into the cloud, you automatically gain space to save, store and run. Your computer’s performance becomes faster, you’re able to store everything you need in one place—and ultimately, you’ll get your job done faster.

Learn more

Now that you understand what the cloud is and why the technology benefits businesses of all types and sizes, what other questions can we answer for you? Ask us today.

For more information on cloud technology, subscribe to our blog.

Subscribe to our blog

Get Rightworks articles delivered straight to your inbox.