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What is the Cloud? It’s the Internet

Do you use Dropbox or Google Drive?  What about OneDrive?  Do the pictures you take with your iPhone automatically link to your iCloud account?  Does your home security system link to your cell phone?  Do you get a text when your washing machine finishes a load?  Are you connected to the Internet of Things?  Do you live in the Cloud?

It’s hard to go anywhere or read anything and not be confronted by the Cloud.  But I suppose that is the point of it.  The Cloud connects all things across all platforms and devices.  It’s not enough now to get a new TV with DVR to record your shows.  No, now we must be able to save those recordings in the Cloud so we can watch them on our iPad on the train into the city, or on our phones as we wait in line at the DMV.

But what exactly is “The Cloud?”  Everyone is developing for the Cloud and says that you need to go there, but where exactly is there?  Like QuickBooks add-ons, they are no longer software, but "Apps."  This is where things have gotten muddled.  It is due to this same confusion that some even question the Cloud’s permanency, wondering if it, like many technologies before it, is a passing fad.

But when you sort through the marketing speak, you are left with a very simple definition of the Cloud that communicates its history and permanence: the Cloud is the Internet.

Now, before anyone becomes enraged by this oversimplification, calm down.  Yes you can create private clouds of remote servers networked together to share and store files.  But that’s not really what we’re talking about.  We’re referring to all the mass jargon floating about referring to the “The Cloud.”  The Cloud is the one we all use, the global network that connects pretty much all things.  It’s the one where I can save a doc to my OneDrive from my home computer and then use any other computer on planet Earth connected to the Internet to open up that exact same document.

Cloud computing is really just computing on the Internet.  It’s the idea of having applications that run online, that save your data online, and that are accessible from anywhere that is online.

Why do we write a 400+ word blog on this basic definition?  Because Cloud product marketers have woven a mystical shroud so tightly around the term “Cloud” as to make the general public believe it is something so fantastical and complicated that it must have been conjured by Dumbledore himself.  The truth is that it is simply the next logical evolution of how we share and store files and information, a next step in the Internet age.  We’ve all been using it for a couple decades now.  So don’t be fooled when marketers rebrand the Internet “The Cloud.”