To cloud or not to cloud. That is the question.

There has been much ado about cloud computing.

Do I store my data in the cloud?

Do I not store my data in the cloud?

But for many of us, the question is even more basic than that:

What the fuck is the cloud?

Well, if you consult Wikipedia, it says:

Cloud computing is a phrase used to describe a variety of computing concepts that involve a large number of computers connected through a real-time communication network such as the Internet.  In science, cloud computing is a synonym for distributed computing over a network, and means the ability to run a program or application on many connected computers at the same time.  The phrase also more commonly refers to network-based services, which appear to be provided by real server hardware, and are in fact served up by virtual hardware, simulated by software running on one or more real machines.  Such virtual servers do not physically exist and can therefore be moved around and scaled up (or down) on the fly without affecting the end user – arguably, rather like a cloud.

The popularity of the term can be attributed to its use in marketing to sell hosted services in the sense of application service provisioning that run client server software on a remote location.

I’m sorry. I don’t speak Mandarin.

Did that help?

Most likely not.

So here is a lay definition of the cloud:

The cloud is a term which describes an array of hardware and software that you don’t have to manage, see or touch, which lets you store, access and run files and programs remotely.

It’s proponents compare it to having an IT department without the IT infrastructure and costs.

Detractors think it’s an trendy method of managing data, fraught with data and security risks.

So what are the benefits of the cloud?

There are many benefits, not the least of which is the ability to house large quantities of data without having the footprint or costs typically associated with maintaining a networked server array. The space and costs savings are usually substantial and allow companies to run leaner and more efficiently.

For non-enterprise users, the cloud allows you to access your content and run programs from multiple devices without the typical per-user or per device licensing restrictions typically associated with many software programs.

Cloud services are always on so you can always access your data. One of the selling points of most cloud-based services are the uptime guarantees. Because of the abstraction taking place behind the scenes, when one server goes down or has to be taken offline, the load is automatically transferred to another with virtually no interruption to service.

With the cloud businesses are no longer required to add hardware to increase storage capacity.

What are the costs of the cloud?

Security and privacy issues are probably the biggest issue when it comes to storage in the cloud. Once you give up your data, it’s up to your service provider to ensure the integrity of that data.

Service interruptions are another issue that gives most IT experts sleepless nights. When you control and monitor your own servers, if there is an issue, you’re right on top of it and can essentially manage fall-over and backup. When you move to the cloud, it’s up to your service provider to protect against downtime and service interruptions.

Lack of control is one more cost of the cloud. Once you’re locked into a cloud-based solution, you’re essentially at the mercy of your service provider. If you want to move to another solution, change configurations, add or subtract features, you’ve got to go through that provider, which may or may not offer the type of flexibility you require versus locally managing your applications.

No I could go on and on about the costs and benefits of the cloud, but suffice it to say, its a trend that IT professionals are moving to in increasing numbers.

In fact, a friend of mine created this handy-dandy infographic highlighting the trends in cloud computing.


Cloud Stats Infographic


Filed under digital advocacy, technology

5 responses to “To cloud or not to cloud. That is the question.

  1. Pingback: To cloud or not to cloud. That is the question. | cacabawee

  2. I think cloud hosting is a good option. Because it provides too may benefits like disaster recovery,flexibility,increased collaboration,document control and most important work from anywhere.


    • Emma, I agree that there are benefits to hosting content in the cloud, including the many you listed. There are also costs and the recent hacks of major corporations using cloud storage solutions illustrates this point.


  3. bugs181

    It should be noted, that cloud computing is kind of just a generic term for storing data online. Everyone is in or on the cloud in some way if you’re on the internet. Which is a pretty good assumption you are if you’re reading this message.

    If for example, you wanted to host your own cloud solution – it’s completely possible AND easy. In my opinion, it costs roughly the same with the added benefit of YOU controlling your data. You don’t have to hand over the control to some other service provider.

    To make the magic happen, just go to and purchase a hosting package. Usually starts out around $20 a month or so. Linode gives you some pretty tech savvy instructions to follow but should be relatively easy for a beginner. If not, have your tech savvy friend, neighbor, cousin, etc set you up and change the password later.

    From there, go grab a copy of ownCloud from Note: ownCloud has a handy dandy new way to find hosting providers for you if you couldn’t figure out step 1. (

    You’ll probably want a .com or some other type of domain to easily access your cloud otherwise you’ll be typing an IP address which is roughly the equivalent of a computer’s phone number. That should run you at around $8 to $10 a year.

    All in all, you can have your own cloud setup for about $30 for the first month, and only $10 or $20 from there on after.

    The cloud will allow you to sync your pictures, movies, music, etc and have them ANYWHERE you go and be able to share them with your friends across your social networking websites or via email.

    Hope this helps!


    • Levy, you know you’re much more tech savvy than most, so of course, setting up your own cloud solution seems like a no brainer. Now we both know it’s just another form of storage. Unfortunately, for the ignorant masses, cloud computing/storage/solutions are the next genie-in-a-box and folks are flocking to it without due regard for the consequences. When you’ve got a server (or space on a server) or storage in a data center, your stuff is no more secure/insecure than it is in the cloud. If a hacker is intent on hacking the security protocols of a physical server array or a virtual cloud-based solution are going to essentially have to offer the exact same protection.


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