You may have heard about cloud computing, but what is it and where did it come from? If you’re a Voalte user, you are already using the cloud. Congratulations, you’re on the cutting edge of technology!
Cloud computing got its name from engineers’ practice of drawing networks as clouds on whiteboards. Drawing a cloud is easier than drawing a bunch boxes and lines for the connections between the client and server. Over time it also became an easier way to talk about server computers too.
The term is used to describe various ways of sending data across a network from one computer (like your iPhone) to another (like the Voalte server). The server then processes your data for you. In this case, it’s the Voalte cloud! Think of it as an assistant doing your bidding. Or think about it like an iceberg. The software running on the iPhone or on the desktop is the tip, but underneath there’s big chunk of software in the network doing its job. That software is running on the server computer.
When you send a message on your Voalte phone, despite what you might think, you’re not sending it directly to your co-worker. Your message goes through the hospital’s WiFi network to a computer called a server. This is a computer in an equipment rack somewhere in your hospital’s IT department. The software on that computer then looks at your text, figures out if your co-worker is logged in and can be reached on WiFi, then relays that text. Otherwise it waits until it can reach your co-worker and sends that message later.
As a Voalte engineer, my co-workers and I create features by writing code on the server, on the iPhone, and on the desktop clients. That software has to communicate across the network. We also define the network protocol that our software uses to talk across that network.
When we find problems, we have to figure out if the problem is on the iPhone, desktop, or the server. Or, maybe there’s a network communication problem in the middle? We don’t like WiFi problems any more than you do!
Writing networked software can be challenging, but it’s also rewarding. I enjoy writing our Voalte software and seeing it used for an important purpose: taking care of patients.