Basic Cloud Service

The SparkFun Photon RedBoard has been based around the P1 Particle
Module. Each P1 comes pre-loaded with Particle OS firmware and includes
their basic cloud service.

What is this ‘basic cloud service’ and do I really need this if I want to use the SparkFun Photon RedBoard?

You won’t need it, but you might loose out on some useful features.

The cloud service includes OTA firmware updates, webhooks, all the Particle.xxxx() functions that can be found in the docs, …

https://docs.particle.io/reference/firmware/photon/#cloud-functions