You see it advertised on television, hear about it on the radio, experience it using a variety of streaming applications, but what is the Cloud? In nature, a cloud is a visible accumulation of a lot of tiny water particles suspended in the atmosphere. Access to email (i.e. Gmail), music (i.e. iTunes), movies (i.e. Netflix), social media (i.e. Facebook), and other data (i.e. Mode5 Cloud), at any time and almost any where make it seem like the Cloud is a mass of information floating above our heads. In actuality, the Cloud is just a remote physical location called a data center that houses a cluster of servers. These servers provided data storage and applications to computers and mobile devices via the internet so they don't have to be housed in your home or your business. Think of it as renting computing services as opposed to buying.
The concept of the Cloud is not really new. In the early days of computing when a computer was a huge piece of equipment called a main frame, there were devices set up to access the main frame called “Dumb Terminals”. Dumb terminals were simple devices that allowed a monitor, mouse, and keyboard to connect and plug into the main frame which performed the actual computing. Then along came hard drives in desktop computers, servers, and PC’s that had their own computing capability. The main frame concept became less popular. But all things become new again and in the age of the internet and mobile devices, the concept of the main frame was revolutionized and evolved as the Cloud.
So what does the Cloud look like? Picture a building containing a myriad of servers. The servers are all equipped with the basics, a power supply, a hard drive, an operating system, and software applications. In the Cloud, the servers are all set up the same and are linked together to provide redundancy. That means that unlike working on a hard drive or a local server, if one part of any linked Cloud server goes down, the load is simply and seamlessly transferred to one of the other linked servers. The Cloud also provides additional benefits like increased security from data breaches, viruses, and malware and built in back-up due to the redundant nature of the multiple servers.
Whether used for business or for pleasure, the Cloud has moved us forward a giant step in our ability to access, process, and share information. Mobile devices are becoming smaller and lighter as they leverage the resources of the Cloud instead of relying on the internal capabilities of data processing and memory. As Internet access increases around the world, the reach and impact of the Cloud will also increase.
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