So often, I see fear or dismissal in people’s eyes when “the cloud” is mentioned. But like many fears, cloud-phobia can be reduced with a bit of understanding.
Since the dawn of personal computing, most of us have gotten used to running programs or apps, or storing data, on our own computers and devices. “The cloud” refers to services that exist in the Internet, on remote computers, that we can access from our computers and other devices, but doesn’t otherwise depend on local computing or storage.
“The cloud” can refer to two things: “cloud storage” and “cloud computing”. Cloud storage is the storage of data in the cloud, and cloud computing is where the computing is done in the cloud.
We refer to it as “the cloud” because we typically don’t know where the storage/computing is occurring: it may be across town or across the world. It has nothing to do with the dependability or security of the storage/computing, which is typically very strong.
Cloud storage and computing are conceptually simple extensions of local storage and computing that most of us have come to use in our everyday lives. With the current level of security available, and as the Internet gets faster and more ubiquitous, it only makes sense to use the cloud. The benefits of cloud storage are: dependability, scalability, and ubiquity (you can access your data from any cloud-connected device). The benefits of cloud computing are: the programs are more current, and typically the servers they run on are more powerful than your local device.
Chances are, you are already using both cloud storage and cloud computing. If you use email, your mail server (the part after the @ in your email address) stores your email for you until you move it or delete it from there. And if you have ever used Google Maps for directions, you have used cloud computing: Google calculates the best route and gives you the estimated time and distance of that route. These are just examples of the thousands of dependable, secure, services we can access in the cloud.