What is the Cloud?

“Clouds” and “cloud computing” are currently the tech terms du jour, but what are they?

Cloud computing allows you to keep data, software, and applications in a single pool of computer resources and not in a single computer. The advantage to the user is accessibility: Start a document at your work computer using Google docs and finish the document at home. The payoff for businesses is even bigger: It changes their focus from hardware to, well, business.

There are 3 categories of cloud computing:

Infrastructure as a service: Instead of buying servers or network equipment, a business can “rent” a block of space from an office service company. The service provider is responsible for maintaining and updating the equipment.

Platform as a service: The business is able to use software and product development tools that are owned and licensed by the provider. The business pays for the time spent using the software or tools.

Software as a service: Also known as “on-demand software,” this software is on the cloud and can be accessed by the Internet. Examples of software as a service are GoogleDocs and web-based email.


  • Information is always available
  • Large storage centers (servers) are off-site
  • Easily scalable
  • Takes burden off in-house IT department


  • Dependence on a third party for maintenance and security
  • Loss of control of personal information and data

Author: Susan Hallinan


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