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An Introduction to the Cloud

Tech Talker demystifies "the cloud" and explains why it's a good idea to take your data to the skies.

By
Eric Escobar,
Episode #013

Listener John H. brought up a great question today: “What is 'the cloud?'”

Technology has a ton of terms and abbreviations and “the cloud” is a very vague term that I will demystify in this episode.

In layman’s terms, the cloud is essentially the internet. So when something is stored “in the cloud” it is actually stored on the internet. If something is “cloud computed,” that means the information is processed on the internet, and so on.

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Why Do We Use The Cloud?

But the real question is why do we use the cloud? Why is it better to store information and to do computing on the web rather than directly on our own computers?

I’ll preface this by saying that I am a huge advocate of the cloud. In fact, my job aside from being your favorite Quick and Dirty Tips host is optimizing businesses so that they can run efficiently, securely and globally – on the cloud.

So back to the question, why do we use the cloud? Well the answer is mobility. Now that the world has smartphones and laptops, files can’t just live on one device. They have to be shared, portable, and accessed on the go. This need for both personal and business use has sparked the cloud revolution.

Let’s take file XYZ for example. If I upload it to a website such as Dropbox or Windows Live Mesh, you could say that it is in the cloud. Now you can access it from your smartphone, laptop, or really any computer or device with an internet connection. It’s just that easy.

On the flip side, if you had that same file stored on your desktop, the moment that you walk away from your desk, you no longer have access to it. And even if you had some sort of remote access to your computer, it would still need to be on in order for you to get at your file!

Where Does The Cloud Store Your Files?

So now your file is in the cloud and you can easily access it from anywhere – great! But where is the file exactly?

In the past few years, large companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple (to name a few) have created enormous data centers around the world. These data centers hold information within servers, which in turn hold your personal data, or a company’s data. The whole goal of a data center is to make your information secure and available to you whenever you want it. It goes without saying that just about every data center has the most sophisticated security system that you would be hard pressed to find in a James Bond film—and I’m not just talking about physical security! Unfortunately, there are computer deviants whose sole goal is to get at your data, and the only thing more impressive than a data center’s physical security system is its virtual one!

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