Posted: 2013-04-19 12:10:41
The cloud is very much a mainstream buzzword these days, but just what is the cloud?
There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding about what this term really means and how it affects the average internet user.
Part of this does come from a habit that some people have of hijacking new concepts and grafting their existing offerings onto it to make something that appears new, but is in fact not.
A good example, of this is "virtual server hosting" which has now morphed into "cloud hosting".
"The cloud" is in fact a storage, or service, location hosted by someone on the internet that users can access, (usually) via a wide range of devices, no matter where they are.
In the case of virtual server hosting, a shared resource located offsite and accessible by the internet has suddenly moved into "the cloud".
At the most basic level "cloud based storage" can be just a bit of hard disk space that someone looks after on your behalf and which can be accessed via your desk top machine, laptop, tablet, phone etc.
The point of this is to maintain one copy of a file that can be accessed anywhere, removing the need to copy files, or indeed carry files out of the office. It also removes the need to have external access into the office via virtual private networks, or other means.
The upshot should be that accuracy and availability of information is improved as well as security - if wisely used. Moving beyond that basic level, "cloud" based applications represent a more sophisticated way to undertake office operations outside of the office.
The point being that the office is just one work location of many and that productive work may be undertaken just as well on a train, or in a coffee shop, as sitting at a desk.
Again, once we blow the clouds away, we find (usually) a website, operating as an application, sitting on a server, somewhere here on Earth. This option was there before the cloud came along, but has now disappeared into "the cloud".
Using the cloud concept of offsite resources available over the internet anywhere makes a great deal of sense in a highly connected, highly mobile world.
However, it is as well to never lose sight of the fact that, at the end of the day, this is all happening on a box in server room at the end of a line somewhere - just like everything else.