We’ve all heard the term before, perhaps way too many times. In fact, it’s become the computer universe’s equivalent to swagger (which is another term I deplore for its never-ending misuse). So what is “The Cloud,” and more importantly why do we need it?
Cloud computing has existed for many years long before Apple had the iCloud, and even before those cheesy Windows advertisements. Cloud computing started around the late 1990’s as a way of shifting workload and resources off of companies so they could operate more efficiently and inexpensively.
Take Amazon, for instance. While many people are just now discovering their consumer-level storage services, Amazon has been offering cloud products and services
for the last decade. That’s right folks; not everything you see on television is true. The cloud is not a big magic hard drive in the sky that keeps all of your instagram pictures and pirated mp3s backed up. The cloud is much more.
That’s right, cloud computing is everything, but th- Oh wait, there’s the kitchen sink.
To look at it from a corporate view, the cloud is a huge network made up of lots of computers, but only certain computers are required to have software and licenses and storage space. Those computers allow access to those products and services to other computers through any specific type of software (it can be as simple as a browser). For companies, this means they don’t have to purchase expensive corporate licenses or make their IT guys waste valuable time installing Microsoft Office on all their computers. Instead, they could use something similar to Google Docs, where all the software, licensing, and storage are on a networked computer that can be accessed via browser.
For consumers, many of these services have slowly crept up on you without you even knowing it. Gmail, Dropbox, and yes… even Facebook; it’s all considered cloud computing. So while tech companies may have you believe it’s only recently been possible to store and access our information, we’ve been doing it for years. What has been more recent is the ability for companies to offer some of the heavier duty services available to consumers.