The Hazy Definition of “Cloud”

clouds

Reprint from Carillon’s Technology News and Updates Dec. 2012

One of the most ubiquitous but misunderstood words these days is “cloud.” Many use “cloud” as a synonym for a new type of data storage available to online-only applications and software. While the cloud is a data storage method it is not some amazing new invention, nor is it exclusive to web-based apps and software. The true definition “cloud” is any off-site data storage. This eliminates those pesky storage rooms filled with servers and wires as well as the need to know or have someone who knows how to run, maintain, and update the servers. For many companies, the cloud means there is at least one less thing to worry about. This is fantastic because companies can now devote more time and resources to their work and clients and potentially have fewer security risks.

Although many completely web based apps and software market themselves as the only truly cloud-based providers, most consumers realize the fallacy of this. They also see the downsides of apps and software that run this way. For instance, the most obvious drawback to apps and software that run exclusively through web browsers is the need to use a web browser! By functioning this way not only do you need the Internet to use the product itself, but you also need the Internet to back up or access your data on the cloud. Talk about severely limiting where and when you can use the products and access pertinent business information! Another big hindrance with web browsers is their lack of speed and unreliable connectivity. How many times have you had to reload a page because of a “connectivity timeout” or dropped Wifi signal? Can you imagine having that happen in a work environment and losing all that business data?

The cloud itself is nothing new, despite all of the ‘cloud talk’ that has taken the world by storm recently. For instance, Carillon’s ERP system has had the ability to run on remote servers from its inception in 1992. Where your servers are located makes absolutely no difference to the functioning of Carillon® ERP. Private, public, or no cloud, the product will function the same, only where the data is stored and who maintains those servers varies. From a business standpoint, this is the way you should want your apps and software to run. You get the ability to use the system and access your business information at any time and in any location, in addition to cloud storage that reduces cost, storage, and security issues.

Both public and private clouds remain constant in what they do and how they do it: they provide off-site data storage either managed in-house or by a third party. What varies is how applications and software use the term “cloud” and how these products interface with it.

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