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What is Cloud Computing?

By Derek Schauland
Updated May 17, 2024
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Cloud computing is another definition for the grid computing technology used in the mid to late 1990's. Surfacing in late 2007, this method is used to allow services used in everyday practice to be moved onto the Internet rather than stored on a local computer.

Email has been available in both methods for quite some time, and is a very small example of cloud computing technology. With the use of services like Google's Gmail® and Yahoo Mail® on the rise, people no longer need to use Outlook or other desktop applications for their email. Viewing email in a browser makes it available anywhere there is an internet connection.

In 2007, other services including word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations were moved into the cloud computing arena. Google provided a word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications in its cloud environment and integrated them with Gmail® and Google Calendar®, providing a whole office environment on the web (or in the cloud). Microsoft and other companies are also experimenting with moving programs to the cloud to make them more affordable and more accessible to computer and Internet users.

Cloud computing at this stage is very popular, aside from the big players like Microsoft and Google, companies have sprung up just to provide cloud based services as replacements or enhancements to applications on your PC today. A few of these companies are Zoho.com, an online office suite, Evernote, a site devoted to online note taking, and RemembertheMilk.com, online task management.

Computing technologies and new programming or development techniques change quite frequently, the goal in cloud computing seems to be to make the technology that the user sees very friendly and keep the experience simple as possible. Internet based development has skyrocketed recently with the boom in blogging and other social networking services aimed at finding new ways to help individuals and business communicate with customers and each other in the cloud arena.

Cloud computing is here to stay, at least for now. There are some concerns about storing personal data in the cloud and security of this information, which are quite valid. The biggest is identity theft. The companies providing cloud based services are very committed to security, however it remains the user's prerogative as to whether or not they wish to put their data in the cloud. Before discounting cloud computing, take a look at the services available and give a few of them a try. Before long, the computing environment as it exists today might just be completely cloud based.

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Discussion Comments
By anon162847 — On Mar 25, 2011

Great site. just what i was looking for!

By anon129831 — On Nov 25, 2010

Very nice explanation. I like this site very much now.

By anon120981 — On Oct 22, 2010

Very well explained! Love the way wisegeek explains everything in simple terms. Better than Wiki!

By anon116523 — On Oct 06, 2010

All the terms in this site have been explained very nicely. Easy to understand.

By anon83982 — On May 13, 2010

The term "cloud" is derived from the old time datagrams used to explain the internet, they would show a graphical representation of the computer connected to a line directly to a cloud looking thing labeled Internet.

By snappy — On Jan 30, 2010

OK, now I understand what cloud computing is thanks!

But where does the name "cloud" come from? Why not web computing - something I would have had an easier time figuring out LOL!

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