You’ve probably heard the term “the cloud” more times than you can count. But what does it really mean — and how do you access the things stored there?
Cloud computing, as defined by Microsoft, is the “delivery of computing services — including servers, databases, networking, software, analytics and intelligence — over the internet.” The benefits of using the internet for these services is myriad. Most notably, it allows for increased speed, flexibility and scalability when it comes to things like resources, innovation and storage. There are four primary types of cloud computing — public, private, hybrid and multiclouds — that individuals and organizations can choose from, depending on their needs. It’s typically used for data backup and analytics, virtual desktops, email and communications, disaster recovery, software testing and development, and web applications.
Okay, but how do you get the info from “the cloud” back down to Earth? Well, let’s take a look at how software and hardware work together to allow you to access that data.
Understanding the Difference Between Software and Hardware
Software can be defined as a set of instructions, data or programs that, essentially, tell a computer or device what to do. It refers to the “invisible” elements that let the device know what tasks to execute and how to do so.
Hardware, on the other hand, is the physical aspect of the computer or device. This includes the tactile elements you can see more clearly, including the casing, body and even the circuitry on the inside of the device.
While these definitions are helpful to understand the big-picture differences between software and hardware, we think it’s important to note that both of these are generalized terms. Each can be broken down into specific categories based on how they are used and function.
How Do Software and Hardware Work Together?
In the broadest sense, software and hardware talk to each other to allow you to access data. When a computer script, program, application or other piece of software gives instructions, that signal has to go somewhere in order for any action to take place. That’s where hardware comes in. Hardware receives the instructions and then takes action based on that signal, which can include accessing stored data or memory, such as getting information from “the cloud.”
It’s important to note that if there’s a disconnect between a device’s hardware and software and they can’t communicate, data transmission breaks down. This could result in performance issues, glitches or, in extreme cases, product failure.
Let’s take a quick look at a real-world scenario to illustrate how they work together.
Say you sign up for an internet-based subscription like Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes access to a collection of mobile and desktop software like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro and Acrobat. You would have access to login and download new versions of the programs in the subscription. The software would then be downloaded onto your physical computer with data stored in your computer’s physical memory chips. But, if your computer is out of memory or storage space, you’d run into an issue trying to download the latest version of the software — even if you were able to access the download online.
Keeping Things in Sync
As mentioned above, when a device’s hardware and software fall out of sync — whether due to software updates, emerging technologies or even wear and tear — it can cause major roadblocks for the end user. This is why contract manufacturers like us pay special attention to ensuring a device’s hardware is up to the job. In some instances, this requires retrofitting hardware to ensure it has the capability to receive the signal and take the required actions.
When software and hardware is in sync, it provide a seamless experience for users accessing data stored in “the cloud.” Together, they help keep data flowing smoothly and opens up the possibilities for greater flexibility and scalability online. As a full-service electronics contract manufacturer, Alert Tech SMT has experience helping customers retrofit and fully customize their hardware. Please reach out to us if you’d like to learn more about getting your hardware up to speed.