Why the Cloud is Like a Cloud

November 8th, 2013
Why the Cloud is Like a Cloud

By Naomi Dolin-Aubertin

I know I posted recently in Top 5 Secrets for Effective Cloud Computing that the cloud is not actually a cloud. In many ways however, cloud computing is very much like the meteorological phenomenon we witness in our skies. Wikipedia defines a cloud as:

In meteorology, a cloud is a visible mass of liquid droplets or frozen crystals made of water or various chemicals suspended in the atmosphere above the surface of a planetary body.[1]


You can think of your data as tiny particles. They reside and traverse a vast expanse of cyberspace. The clouds are your servers where the millions of particles coalesce to form "the cloud." They take on a theoretical weight and mass until they enter the public consciousness as "the cloud" Twitter's servers are cloud-based and if you think about it, tweeting is like the old-fashioned advertising technique of sky writing behind an airplane.


Image: Berndnaut Smilde http://www.berndnaut.nl/works.htm

A private cloud, however is very much like the work of artist Berndnaut Smilde. He creates floating clouds within interior spaces. These clouds are limited to a select few with access to that space. These clouds are also created from a coalescence of trillions of data particles, but they aren't accessible to everyone. You've seen the unhappy images of people trudging underneath their private raincloud. In the case of a private cloud, especially in the case of businesses that want to limit access to their confidential data, it's actually a great thing.


Thankfully, while 51% of respondents to a Citrix study "think stormy weather can interfere with cloud computing," inclement weather has no effect on your cloud services (let's put aside natural disasters for the moment as they are a category unto themselves).

Allegorically speaking, the cloud is quite like a cloud in composition. However, apart from its name, the cloud has little to do with the atmospheric clouds that fill our skies.

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