I’ve Looked at Clouds…

Paula LaBrot

We have had a beautiful rainy season. After years of clear, dry skies, the clouds have been breathtakingly beautiful. Such natural beauty! In the tech world there is also a cloud…the Cloud. It’s a word we hear all the time and is well worth understanding. Recode.com reports, “The tech industry loves to use buzzwords like the Internet of Things, Big Data, and 5G. The problem is that these sometimes nebulous or arbitrary terms don’t make it clear what they actually mean to consumers.” So, let’s nail this Cloud thing.

WHAT IS “THE CLOUD?”

The Cloud is a storage center outside of your own computer. Just as real clouds are storage centers for water vapor and can deliver that water far from where it was collected, a tech Cloud stores information generated from individual computers which can be remotely accessed from all over the world. A cloud hosting service provides you this kind of outside storage space.

At Gizmodo.com they explain, “The Cloud is not a giant hard drive in the sky. When you store something in the cloud, you’re actually storing it in a very physical space. Your file slides across the wire and then lives on a physical server—usually more than one—in some far-flung place. Depending on which cloud hosting service you use, that file is now in the possession of a giant corporation to whom you probably pay a monthly fee, which makes it incredibly convenient to access files or to share files from any computer with an internet connection.”

WHAT’S A SERVER?

A Cloud is made up of multiple, connected servers. Techtarget.com defines a server as a “computer program that provides a service to another computer program and its user, also known as the client. The physical computer itself that a server program runs on is, also, frequently referred to as a server.”

There are different types of servers. According to Wikipedia, A web server is an information technology that processes requests via HTTP, the basic network protocol used to distribute information on the World Wide Web. An application server gives clients complete access to software programs like video editing or graphic design who don’t have those programs on their own computers. Proxy servers process information sitting in between two end points and are used for virtual privacy networks  (VPNs), which help hide your computer’s address.

WHAT IS GOOD ABOUT “THE CLOUD?”

Software as a service (SaaS) makes all kinds of programs available to business and consumers. Let’s say I want to do some video editing on Adobe Premier or some graphics work on Adobe Photoshop. The latest, greatest versions of these programs are available from a cloud service for a monthly fee. The beauty of it is that the user gets all the latest upgrades without taking up a lot of room on their home drive. You do all your work in the Cloud. The Cloud vendor does all the upkeep and provides the power needed to run and store the programs, many of which have huge files created by the user.

In business, many people now love to work remotely. According to ringcentral.com, “The average worker now telecommutes two days per month. Thanks to cloud computing, she can use her favorite home devices and office supplies to connect and get work done. The Cloud essentially enables the entire office to be present in any employee’s home.” And, it turns out, workers’ productivity levels show higher outputs when employees work remotely.

New companies set up virtual offices, eliminating the need for infrastructure and overhead costs. Different cloud vendors offer services from teleconferencing to human resource and payroll programs. This means it takes a lot less capital layout for new business startups.

Disaster security is another big plus for Cloud storage. Having important documents, pictures and data stored off your property for safekeeping is invaluable. We, who live with the threat of devastating fire damage really understand this!  

THE STORMY SIDE OF THE CLOUD

Gizmodo.com points out that “Once your data’s in the Cloud, you’ve lost some basic control over it. When you upload a file to a cloud storage service like iCloud, if you want to delete that file, you’re trusting the company to delete all of the copies. As we’ve seen in the past, this doesn’t always happen like it’s supposed to.” There are hacking threats, for sure! Steve Wozniack wonders who owns the data you create and store online? Think of Facebook and how it sells your photos and data. Wozniack also warns about sites crashing, about terms of service changing, and fees increasing.

CLOUD ILLUSIONS…

PCmag.com observes, “Cloud computing—like so much about the Internet—is a little bit like the Wild West, where the rules are made up as you go, and you hope for the best.” All those invisible ones and zeroes swirling in cyber space… the “Cloud Illusions” are very much a part of our present and future. We’ll figure it out.

Vamos a Ver!

 

Paula LaBrot
Paula LaBrot

Paula LaBrot is a 30-year resident of Topanga, a futurist with a special interest in the uncharted waters of cyberspace. plabrot@messengermountainnews.com

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