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What Does “In the Cloud” Mean?

by Dave on December 2, 2010

Cloud ComputingA new set of terms has been circulating recently, including cloud computing, cloud applications, and “in the cloud.” I’ve seen the quizzical expression on some when I mention these words, and get an occasional question about the meaning of these terms.

Cloud applications (programs) and services are running at least partially, over the Internet on a remote server or “in the cloud. ┬áThese services are accessed by the user with a browser. Cloud computing is a result of the increasing power of computers, the increasing speed of the internet and ‘virtualization,’ which is the increasing capability of computers, and servers, to run ‘virtual’ machines inside a physical machine.

Cloud applications aren’t new, but the terminology is. Google Docs is a free Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, form, and data storage service. Google Docs has been around in various forms since 2005-2006. Wikipedia has a listing of cloud services here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Cloud_applications

Anti-virus services “in the cloud” are a fairly recent development. Scanning of the files is handled on a remote server rather than on a user’s machine.

Here’s an excellent post by Filter Joe about what it means to work in the cloud. http://bit.ly/ddSJQi

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