Is Cloud Computing the Same as the Internet?

What’s all this cloud computing hype about?  Isn’t cloud computing just another name for the internet?

The answer is: NO.  Cloud computing uses the internet — and in fact couldn’t exist without the internet — but cloud computing implies a lot more than just using the internet.  What makes a cloud differ from an ordinary website?

Characteristics of the cloud:

  • The Cloud provides storage space for your files
  • The cloud provides software to process your files (wordprocessor, photo editing, email, contact management,calendar, etc.)
  • The cloud automatically backs up your files; copies of your files are stored in different geographical areas
  • Data can be accessed by multiple users at the discretion of the creator of the data.

Cloud computing mirrors desktop computing.  On a personal computer, data files are stored on a hard disk.  The software to process these files is also stored on a hard disk.  You sit down at your computer and double click on a “.doc” file and Microsoft Word launches to display the data in the file and to allow you to change it.

In cloud computing you sit down in front of your computer and launch your browser (internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.).  You point you browser to a file in the cloud and select it, say a Google Doc file, and the Google Doc wordprocessing software launches.  Google Docs shows you the data in the file and lets you change it.

Harvey Levine