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What Is the Cloud? It Isn’t that Complicated.

cloudspinkIf you are using cloud computing, you are not working, storing information, or using certain applications on your own personal computer or mobile device. Instead, you are working over the Internet.

The cloud isn’t a physical place — it’s simply a metaphor for the Internet and is made up of networks of linked servers. Servers are high-powered computers with specialized software to handle various kinds of processing and storage demands. They have a heck of a lot more memory than your computer does, too.

Do You Use the Cloud?

  • If you take a photo with your smartphone, it’s stored on the device. But uploading to Instagram happens via the cloud.
  • Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader, Google Voice, etc., are all cloud computing apps. You can access the info from all of your computers and devices if you set it up to do so.
  • When you synchronize your Apple mail, iTunes, contacts, calendar, etc, you are using Apple’s cloud service. The service can also be used for storing your photos, music, and media.
  • Amazon also offers cloud services, including storing your MP3s and playing them back via the cloud.
  • Facebook? Cloud services.

You’ve been using the cloud all this time and didn’t even know it.

Small Business Uses the Cloud
As a small business, my new website/blog serves as my portfolio. www.pagesmith.org. Because of the cloud, I can spend my time creating content. If I had something to sell, I could do that, too.

I didn’t have to hire Information Technology folk 24/7 to make sure everything keeps working, or buy all the necessary software or apps/widgets to create the various functions I want my site to have. My site host provides customer support and access to various apps or widgets — many free — including the software to create and improve it. If it weren’t for cloud services, my site wouldn’t exist.

It is less expensive for small businesses to move to the cloud, partly because they end up paying for only the time their site is busy and they don’t have to invest in equipment to support their business.

What I Don’t Like About Cloud Computing
Companies such as Comcast and AT&T already control our Internet access. They are in business to squeeze more money out of us. Don’t get me started on the subject of Net Neutrality that is in front of the FCC as we speak, or the possible Comcast/Time-Warner merger. Can you spell monopoly? What will that do to our costs? The more we depend on cloud computing, the more power they gain. Especially over pricing.

There isn’t any law or regulation regarding who owns the data we store online at present. Is it us, or the company that stores it? Does anybody read the small print in all the agreements we must accept? Think about how upset we get when Facebook and Instagram change their terms of service regarding how they use OUR photos or posts.

Here is a great article explaining the Cloud if you want more details.