The cloud is a deceptively simple concept for the modern consumer. Most of us use the cloud every day and probably never think about it. Popular online services and destinations like Gmail, Netflix, MobileMe, and Twitter are all operating in the cloud and the information and media we send to, or receive from, these sources is all passed through the cloud.
When people talk about the cloud, they’re using the concept of a cloud as a metaphor for the internet. Services like Gmail, which save you from having to own and operate your own email hosting server and software, are actually hosting your emails and information in many remote data centers via the internet or cloud. These redundant data centers, where your information is housed, are important because they’re the reason using the cloud is so powerful, cheap, and easy for all of us.
For example, when you send a new tweet on Twitter, your new tweet is instantly housed in and across a wide expanse of data centers- large groups of powerful computers you never see. These data centers store your tweet securely and make it possible for you and your friends to see your tweet from multiple devices (smart phones, laptops, desktops) and from anywhere in the world (your house, your office, on the train) instantly. Your new tweet is in the ‘cloud’ and the benefits that come with using the cloud don’t end there.
In addition to allowing device and location independence, the cloud provides security for your data. Data, once in the cloud, is essentially backed-up and lives in the cloud even if you lose the original copy on your PC. Decentralizing your data means you’re covered should something go wrong. Services and applications that use the cloud make it easy to instantly upload, backup, share, and access information to and from anywhere in the world. Because the cloud has so many applications, it’s already become a big part of many users’ daily online activity.
California is home to many of the leading services using the cloud like Google, Flickr, Twitter, Netflix, and Apple. The cloud is the online space in which the future of exchange between users and services will be made possible and Californian innovators are leading the way. Whether or not users are aware that they’re utilizing the cloud when they log-in to read their mail or upload some photos, the cloud is becoming an integral part of how we all use and share information more freely and effectively.