what is the cloud

What Is The Cloud?

Simplifying what the cloud is, how you can use it to your advantage, and why it’s called the cloud.

Cloud computing is such an inherent part of my everyday life, it's easy for me to forget that not everyone understands what it is, what it means, or even why we call it "the cloud.” So, I'm going to simplify it for you, tell you how you can use the cloud to your advantage, and explain the name.


First, let's clear up what the cloud is

“The cloud” just means “the internet.” Because we use the Internet so much, it’s easy to overlook the fact that no one single thing called "the Internet” exists. The Internet is really just a whole lot of computers connected to each other by long distance networks. The cloud refers to software and services that run on the Internet, rather than locally on your computer.

Over the years, some very smart people have developed some very smart technologies that take advantage of all these interconnected computers. Things like "email", "the World Wide Web", and even "virtual private networks" are all technologies built in the early days of the Internet.

As our Internet connections have gone from dial-up to high-speed, and we’ve gone from having to log in to being constantly connected, we are now able to shift the things we do on our computers away from our local devices and onto the Internet using the cloud.


So, how can you take advantage of the cloud?

Okay, for example, instead of storing all my documents on my computer, I can now store them on “the cloud.” This means I never have to worry about a cup of coffee spilling on my laptop and destroying years of work.

I no longer have to worry about taking too many pictures of my kids’ school events and running out of room on my computer, because I can just upload them to the cloud.

My music collection doesn’t have to fill bookcases full of CDs in my house because I can just access all my music directly from the cloud (whenever I want, on whatever device I want). In other words, it’s all stored online. The cloud offers you convenience and reliability.


So, why do we call it “the cloud?”

I think, for one, it’s less confusing for people than calling it “the Internet,” since the Internet is so many things. But I think the name for the cloud originally comes from IT geeks drawing diagrams on white boards.

If we were to quickly sketch out a diagram of a network, it would be easy to draw laptops and desktops and wireless routers, etc. But when we try to add the internet as a component to our diagram, we have no way of representing it, so we often just draw a nebulous cloud. Hence, cloud = Internet.

In my next article, I’ll get into some pros and cons of cloud computing, some great examples of what it looks like in real life, and a few pointers on how you can get started. Click here to learn more about our cloud journey here at Bit-Wizards or get in touch about a cloud infrastructure project here.

Author

Samuel O. Blowes, Director of IT
Samuel O. Blowes

Director of IT

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