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Ops Behind the Cloud is a new series that we want to embark on. In this series, we’ll be giving you an inside look at what really goes on behind the scenes of the cloud. We want this to be an audience driven series where you can interact with us and tell us what you’d like to see next. With some of the blog posts we’ll even be creating a video for you to watch. But, for the first post we want to start with the basics so we have a nice platform to build from. So let’s get started!

What is the cloud?

This is probably a question the majority of the general public wouldn’t know the complete answer to. They may say that it’s what their iPhone automatically backs up to or it’s storage in the cloud that they occasionally use. But, that’s not what the cloud is, that’s just one of the many functions that it can perform.

Today I want to break down the cloud at a high level. This will give you a better idea of what the cloud is and what it can do. Some people don’t put much thought into what the cloud is or how it works because for a lot of end users, it’s as simple as hitting a “back up” button or clicking and dragging a file into a DropBox folder. Well, there’s more to it than that, but in the simplest form the “cloud” is a place where consumers can store, access, and compute data over the internet. So all this data that you store in the cloud isn’t literally floating around somewhere, there’s some serious hardware behind it all, and behind that, there’s people building it.

What are the building blocks of the cloud?

At a very high level, you’ll need the basics: racks, servers, power and a network. Racks to hold the servers, power to plug in and turn on the servers, and a network to connect it all to the internet so the customer can access it. Of course, this is just some of the hardware and each piece of hardware is made up of even more hardware. The next big thing you need to have a successful cloud is software. If you don’t have applications to run in the cloud, it’d be like having a Lamborghini with no gas. It’s nice to look at, but it can’t do anything. But, for this post, instead of diving deep into the hardware and software of the cloud, we wanted to show you a little bit of the building process.

In the video below, you’ll see Rob and I building the cloud. You’ll see us mounting hard drives, prepping servers, setting up racks, installing PDUs and installing servers. This process is more well known within the industry as “racking and stacking”. But, this should still give you a peek behind the scenes of what goes on that most people don’t get to see.

We’re really eager to continue with this “Ops Behind the Cloud” series and would appreciate your input. If there is anything you’d like you see or are curious about, be sure to leave a comment or tweet us your suggestion at @Nimbix!