The Cloud: What is it and why does it matter?

The ‘cloud’ in tech terms is an important tool most of us use daily or almost daily. Since we live in an increasingly tech-centric society, its beneficial to have a working knowledge of the cloud and how it works.

The definition of the ‘cloud’ is: ‘a network of remote servers hosted on the internet and used to store, manage and process data in place of local servers or personal computers.’ (Source — Bing: What is the Cloud? )

Simply speaking, the cloud is anything that runs on and is stored on the internet instead of your home computer. Software, services and apps may all have a connection to the ‘cloud’ in some way or another. A few examples of services that use the cloud are Google Drive, email programs such as Gmail, movie subscription services and even iTunes. Information may also be stored to the cloud using apps like Facebook and Twitter. Banking, financial transactions and even medical records are becoming increasingly dependent on the cloud.

The physical hardware of the cloud consists of numerous data centers, sometimes called ‘server farms’ located around the globe. These data centers are essentially warehouse type buildings which hold hundreds upon hundreds of servers (which often look like enormous pc towers) for storing data.

Having the same personal information, movies, games and social media accounts at your fingertips at the touch of a button on multiple devices is made possible by the cloud. Additionally, with the ability to access information from anywhere in the world, networking and collaboration with other professionals in your realm of business is easier than ever before. In many ways, this kind of convenience is beneficial, but it also has downsides. Ease of connection also comes with a price — including security concerns, the need for better cyber protections for personal and professional information as well as making it harder to ‘unplug’ from technology, our jobs and social media to enjoy some low tech R&R.

Time will tell what effect the cloud is having and will continue to have not just on the tech industry, but individuals, families and societies as a whole.