It has been a favorite buzzword of 2012 and all the rage lately, but do you really know what the Cloud is and how it works?
While it may seem like this mystical, far off place, the Cloud is basically the Internet. But it’s also more than the Internet – it’s Internet 2.0.
Traditionally, the Internet was a place to go to get information. Need to learn about something new? No problem, just get on the Internet and research it. After all, why do you think Google became so popular in the first place?
However, as time went on the Internet changed and evolved. No longer just a place to go for information, the Internet became social, and we started sharing information with one another on websites like Myspace and Facebook, instead of on our own personal webpages.
While all this was happening, other things were changing with the Internet too. Websites like Dropbox, Skydrive, and other websites emerged, giving us places to store our files, and later access them from anywhere, as long as we had an Internet connection.
Along the way, something new emerged – the Cloud, something that is still growing, and taking shape even today.
Currently, the Cloud is a hybrid of traditional computing and online storage. While you still load software and files on your computer, the Cloud gives you the ability to store your files online, so that you can access them from wherever you are as long as you have Internet access.
Today, many companies store their files in the Cloud, both as a way to access files from anywhere, and as a way to ensure files are protected off site and redundantly backed up.
In the future, we may never need to store anything on our computers ever again, including software. Think about tablet computers and smart phones, when you need something, you just go to the app store and download it. Computers will soon be like that. Instead of downloading software, we’ll just go online and access it.
In fact, in many ways, the benefits of the Cloud can be seen from current smart phones. What happens when you get a new smart phone? You enter your account information, and magically all of your contacts and other information are transferred to your new phone. Within minutes, you can begin using your new device, without spending time moving items, transferring data, and setting up your phone.
For computers, the Cloud may soon make this a reality. Instead of loading software on your computer, all you need is a basic operating system, and an Internet connection. Just boot up, hop online, and access your software, files, or more.
While the Cloud leaves us more dependent on the Internet and external servers, it allows us to be more independent with our hardware. We don’t have to be tethered to a particular machine, just one with Internet access. We don’t have to worry about equipment breaking, and not backing up items, because it’s already safe, in the Cloud.
While we all access and use the Cloud now, it’s important to remember that it’s still in its infancy, and may change as it grows and develops. However, as it’s shaping up now, the Cloud is poised to set us free from our computers, and allow for greater mobility with our technology.