The buzzword in the computer industry today is “Cloud Computing”. But what is it? If you are a bit like me and possess overactive imagination …you probably cannot think about cloud computing without having to deal with a mental image of fluffy clouds floating about in the sky…but enough about me. More importantly, what do you think about when you think about about cloud computing and why do you need to care?

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Some of you (and I have tested) believe that it is an iPhone app. Some tried to convince me that cloud is exclusive to iPad and iPad 2 will be a lot better at it than last year’s version. Some have advised me that they were planning to switch onto cloud computing but had to do a lot of work to prepare for it.

Not bad but not quite correct.

Most of you are already using the cloud services. (There goes my overactive imagination again…excuse me for seeing you dancing about on a white and fluffy could). Do you have a Yahoo, Gmail, or MSN email address? If the answer to that is ‘yes’ you are a more advanced technology user than you thought, because you are already a cloud user. Your data is not on your local computer, it is stored potentially thousands of miles away.

The same goes for the social media sites, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the other eight gazillion programs operating in the same way. Your comments, pictures, ideas, are not living inside that box on the floor beside your monitor; they are on a computer far, far away.

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To be honest, this whole concept seems very scary. I personally, prefer my data where I can touch it and being looked after by someone who I can personally get my hands on if something goes wrong. But just tell me: who would trust information to be stored in a place that is hard to define? A place that you have no chance of visiting, checking your data and saying, ‘Yes that brilliant data is definitely mine and it is happy and safe here. Look at it, it is smiling.’ (Did I take this too far…?)

But, think about it for a moment. Your local hard drive is very similar to ‘cloud’ in a way. Sure, you can take a screwdriver and unhook it. You can hold it in your hands, but can you really touch the data? Can you see it? Can you hold that picture of your child in your hands? The answer is a resounding NO!

You can hold the physical device, but so what? What happens if that physical device gets damaged? The sensible answer would be, ‘I would reload my data from my back up system’. It sounds great, but, how many of you actually back up your data? Honestly now….

The cloud makes good sense. Your data is backed up, it is safe. Sure, if you lose your Internet connection it will be inaccessible until service is restored. After much consideration …and I had time for it when my work email that was incidentally, with Gmail (you can read all about it here) had a meltdown…, I have decided to class that as a minor irritant that I can live with. And when it happens I can always continue to create at the local level.

The cloud as a data repository makes sense to me. It unchains me from my desk…if not from my computer… Now, no matter which part of the world I am in, I can still work! This has got to be great…but why does it feel so wrong? Does anyone know the lyrics to ‘Unchain My Heart’?

Over and out


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