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Author Topic: Clouds, the Internet kind
Lisa
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Can someone please explain this cloud business? Honestly, I keep seeing references to it, but I'm obviously missing some key concept, because I can't make any sense of it at all.
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fugu13
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In most cases, it just means hosted services, available through a web interface and often a decent API, for free, a monthly fee without contract, or by usage.

What's interesting about it isn't that there's anything technologically revolutionary, but that the availability and ease of integration of the services makes them often not just a substitute for non-hosted services, but better.

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Lisa
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Really? Some PR person deserves a promotion, then. But... why cloud? That makes it sound like it's various hosted servers connected together into some sort of gestalt, no?
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King of Men
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The point is rather that you needn't have any idea where your stuff is hosted; it's all sort of somewhere in the blue skies. "Black box" would have been an equally good phrase, but has rather different connotations. Also, you can see a cloud from wherever you happen to be.
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fugu13
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A lot of network diagrams depict the internet as a cloud (in a non-metaphorical sense). Here's one picked at random: http://www.clinicplus.com.my/images/clinic%20network%20diagram.jpg .

The choice makes sense, too. That is, the exact details of how everything in the internet is connected is too fuzzy to be accurately depicted (and doesn't actually matter much) -- it really does exist as a sort of gestalt.

So, since the services being used exist out 'in the internet', they exist 'in the cloud'.

A lot of the hosted services do have a gestalt effect, though. That's part of what I'm referring to with the ease of integration -- for instance, I'm using a variety of services through apps on my iPhone that integrate with Dropbox, Facebook, and numerous other cloud services.

It is a nice PR term, but it also refers to a very real change in how people are consuming computing.

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Strider
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My understanding was that The Cloud is another way of talking about The Internet. But specifically having to do with accessing and storing all sorts of content remotely as opposed to locally. So like instead of housing all your music locally, you access it remotely. Google docs (and most of google's services actually) and microsofts new online office, etc...Instead of storing all my finances on my computer, I use Mint and access it from whatever device I have available.

I don't particularly like "The Cloud" as a buzz word, but whatever.

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