For years, we thought it was a mass of moisture floating above the earth. Now “the cloud” is a technology term — at once inevitable and shrouded in mystery.
So what is it, and why should I care?
We’re asked this a lot by our client-partners, so in the interest of shared learning, here are answers to the top 3 most frequently asked questions about “the cloud.”
1) What is cloud computing?
Long ago – in the 1990’s – businesses bought software applications distributed in disc form. They installed these applications on computers. Software was costly, difficult to customize, and annoying to update. Computers were usually supported and backed-up by servers housed in a company’s office. Servers were expensive to buy and maintain.
Then the internet came along.
The market uncovered economies of scale in data storage (buh-bye, server room). And technology has advanced such that software applications don’t necessarily need to live entirely on your computer. They, along with the data, can live – wait for it – in the cloud. Data storage can now be offered at scale. And software can be deployed centrally – making it cheaper to distribute and easier to update and customize.
That is the essence of cloud computing in about 100 words.
2) Where is the cloud?
Google, Amazon, Rackspace and others have invested heavily to build “server farms.” A server farm is a warehouse full of servers, typically situated close to a hydroelectric plant for a reliable, cheap source of energy. Oregon, Washington, and North Carolina are common locations. Your data and applications will typically be housed across more than one server farm. Don’t plan on stopping off to visit your data on your way to Disneyworld; server farms are unmarked, highly secure buildings.
3) How safe is my data in the cloud?
For most consumers and businesses, the answer is basically, “it’s as safe or safer than any alternative.”
The level of encryption and the investment in data security offered by cloud providers far exceeds what most businesses currently use. That said, these data centers are higher profile targets. To date, there haven’t been any material breaches in cloud systems. So is your data safe? The answer is yes, to the extent that data can be made safe, it is safe.
StoryDesk is an iPad sales tool that makes presentations, brochures and other marketing materials memorable and measurable.
Based in New York City, our clients include Ralph Lauren, BBC and other major companies, as well as startups and non-profits.