What is Cloud Computing?

I have to admit, I hadn’t given a second thought to what the cloud actually was until it was brought up during our brainstorm. Can you tell that I literally just googled “What is cloud computing?” I can say that without embarrassment because I know I am not the only one.

From what I’ve read, both in the article by Eric Griffith for PC Mag and various other academic papers floating around in the library database, the cloud is exactly what you would imagine it to be– a nebulous, intangible thing that still manages to hold bytes upon bytes upon bytes of information. We might not know what it is, but we know that our iTunes is in it, so it must be cool in our books.

Joking aside, the cloud is essentially a hard drive without the hard. It’s a location on the internet where information is stored or synced with other information elsewhere– all without the physical storage unit that we’re accustomed to having. Think DropBox, Google Drive, or Windows SkyDrive. Most cloud storage is provided by Google, Apple, Amazon, and Windows (both on a commercial and individual level) as well as by companies that are specifically dedicated to providing online data storage.

Over the last few years, there has been a dramatic shift towards greater use of the cloud for storage. For big businesses, it means that files can not only be shared over long distances with many different people, but that each of those people now have permanent access to those files and any changes made to them by all the people with access. Instantaneously. On a smaller scale, it means that you have access to your Chemistry lab report on your phone or your laptop or your iPad and can pull it up for your professor when you forget the hard copy after only getting 45 minutes of sleep.

The benefits of this are pretty clear: instant access to your information from various locations, the ability to share it seamlessly with others and receive feedback, and peace of mind that the nudes saved on your phone won’t be gone when you drop it in the toilet.

On the other hand, according to Griffith, there are some cons that potentially outweigh the pros, the main one being that there is no cloud where there is no internet. That means that your access to your information is entirely dependent on your internet service provider, and you are therefore a slave to their rates, fees, and inconsistent bandwidth speeds. Ultimately, if the servers that provide cloud storage crash, you’re out of luck. Like my dad always says, “Did you back up your stuff on the external hard drive yet?”

“No, Dad.”

“Well did you put it on a thumb drive?”


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