The Cloud

One definition for cloud is a visible collection of particles of water or ice suspended in the air, usually at an elevation above the earth’s surface. But that’s not what this article is about. The cloud is a term commonly used by the media and those in the information technology field. It’s a trendy and cryptic phrase, and many are left wondering what it is and where it’s located.

The cloud is not one single object or location. A general definition of the cloud would be this: a collection of software, services and data that resides on the Internet. To the general consumer, the cloud may consist of Gmail, Netflix movies, Candy Crush scores or a favorite song streamed to a computer or smartphone. Healthcare companies store information about you there. Police and federal agencies store details about you there. Basically, it’s data or services that an individual can access from anywhere an Internet connection exists.

The location of the cloud is about as broad of a topic as what is the cloud? Many of the big players in the tech game have their own little, or maybe not so little, pieces of the cloud. For example, Facebook has large data centers in Forest City, N.C., and Prineville, Ore. Those facilities can handle 1.32 billion monthly active users, 6 billion likes per day, 400 billion shared photos, and 7.8 trillion sent messages. Apple’s iCloud datacenter in Maiden, N.C., covers 200 acres and can handle 320 million active users.

The cloud has become an integrated part of most of our personal lives, but businesses are also taking advantage of it. The approach many companies have taken is to ease their way in, playing it safe and staying in control. There are positives and negatives to moving to the cloud. Some factors to consider are: bandwidth limitations, future functionality, disaster recovery, integration requirements, maintenance and support.

When your data and services are in the cloud you’re not responsible for keeping things operational, and that’s good and bad. I’m glad that there are web servers in the cloud where I can host my blog website. It would be costly, both in dollars and time, for me to set up my own personal system. But I find myself frustrated as I sit here and try to upload this article because the site currently not working. I wish I could jump in and fix it, but I can’t.

The cloud has descended upon our world and there’s little chance of escape. More and more of the services consumers and companies are using are becoming cloud-based. Our phones use it. Our operating systems us it. Every time we hop on Facebook, Amazon, Twitter or use our Google drive or Dropbox, we access the cloud. There is, however, a bright spot in the midst of all this cloudiness, with the move to the cloud comes easy access to our data.

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