What Is The Cloud? Part 1 of 2

What is the cloud Part 1

In this first post, we will be discussing –

  • One sentence to answer what the cloud is
  • Elaborated answer on what the cloud is
  • Do you use it already?

Our second post will cover –

  • Is it safe?
  • Accounting and the cloud

 

The cloud in one sentence:

The cloud is a server that you can log into from anywhere you have internet connection, to access certain data that is important to you.

Elaborated answer to what the cloud is:

First off, I know I’m a little late on this topic and that it’s been written/blogged/tweeted/smoke signaled about at least 1.73 trillion times!  It’s just that everyone tries to over complicate the subject.  If my one sentence, defining the cloud, still confuses you or you ate it up but still want more then I’m happy to help.

The term “cloud” is just a metaphor for the internet.  When you look at flow charts, from back in the day, the internet was always represented as a cloud.  However, cloud computing or the new use of “the cloud” is more specific than just “the internet” these days.  Unfortunately, companies like Microsoft, Apple, IBM, and many others used the “The Cloud” as a marketing term to sell you their service.  In doing so, they made the consumer think they were buying a physical product.  This is what has created a lot of the confusion as to what “the cloud” actually is.

Cloud computing or cloud storage is the term used for storing data on a server, usually off-site, which can be accessed at any time.  When accessing this server, you sign in using a secure username and password through a web-service (in most cases, a website).  This login information is matched up with credentials on the server you are trying to access and if they match, you are able to access whatever related information that is stored on that server

Look at it this way, on your computer you have a hard drive filled with information.  Software, documents, and countless other types of files.  Let’s pretend you started writing a novel three years ago and never finished it.  One morning you decide you want to finish writing “Sunny, and The Confused Little Cloud” <– that’s the name of your novel!

After your first cup of coffee for the day, you walk over to your computer and log in using a username and (most likely) a password.  This gives you access to everything that is stored on your hard drive.  You search for your novel and start typing…darn!…you realize your writers block is as strong as it was three years ago and give up writing for now.  You save the document and close out.

“The cloud” is no different than the hard drive on your computer.  However, the documents and files are physically stored someplace else.  The great thing about this is that you can login and access your information from any computer anywhere at any time through the internet.  So if you stored your novel on a server you could log in, while at the beach, when inspiration strikes, and start typing away!

Do you use it already?

Chances are very good that you use cloud storage already.  As mentioned before, anywhere you have internet connection you can send credentials through the internet to access a server storing specific information.

Do you have an online bank account that you log into to see your account transactions?  Bank of America, Citizens, TD Bank, and most likely your local bank all have online access.

What about email?  Your email is stored on a server which you log into, to check every day.  Gmail, Yahoomail, and all the other email services are hosted on external servers somewhere that you access.  Only when you use a product like Outlook, do you download a copy of the email.

Even Youtube is an example of an online server.  Youtube stores millions of user-uploaded videos that you can log into and access.

–Dan

 

Photograph courtesy of:  https://flic.kr/p/3SvhB