I don’t know about you, but the whole “cloud” thing is starting to get a little old. I feel like we’re in the 1980s again, when all you had to do was slap “2000” on anything and it was instantly cool. Don’t believe me? Would you rather have Windows or Windows “2000”. The next fad came with the lowercase “i” on everything. iPods needed iSpeakers and iTunes etc… Now, we have “cloud”. If you want to instantly make your business sound legitimate, just add some kind of “cloud” service to the title and you’ll garner instant fame, at least that’s what some seem to think it will do. Don’t get me wrong, cloud computing is serious business, but as cool as it sounds to have your business “in the cloud”, where are you going to be when it all comes crashing down?
Cloud Computing’s Appeal
Some of you may be wondering what the “cloud” actually is. Isn’t a cloud a white puffy thing that floats in the earth’s atmosphere? Believe it or not, that’s the second result you’ll get if you search for “cloud” on Google. In very simple terms, the cloud is a service that is delivered to you via the internet. If you look below, you will see a representation of a laptop at the bottom of the picture. The laptop connects to the internet via it’s Internet Service Provider, which could be DSL, 4G, cable etc… The internet is represented with a cloud. The reason for this is because once you get past the physical boundaries of your home or work-space, the route that your computer’s data takes is very complex. You have probably been using cloud services for years and didn’t even realize that’s what it was called. For instance, if you use Hotmail or Gmail for your email service, then you are using software as a service. It is provided to you via the internet, rather than something being stored on your computer.
There are many things to like about cloud computing. Probably its greatest appeal is how easy it is to access your information. For instance, one of my favorite applications is Dropbox. I can create a grocery list on my laptop at home and save it to my Dropbox folder. When I go to the grocery, I use the Dropbox app to open the grocery list and do my shopping right from my phone. From a business standpoint, there are a lot of great advantages to using cloud services too. For instance, I work in the construction industry and we deal with blueprint designs all of the time. Most blueprints are designed using a program called AutoCAD and the files it creates are usually enormous in size. Even if you convert them to PDF format, the drawings are usually still to large to transfer via email. Using a service like Dropbox allows our project managers to share these files with field personnel, which saves the cost of printing the files and putting them in a truck and driving them to a job site.