Why is it called “Cloud Computing”?

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Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is one of the hottest topics today and has become a huge buzz word within the IT industry. Have you ever stopped and wondered why it’s called ‘cloud computing’? It has nothing to do with the weather, storms or meteorology, so where did this concept come from?

What is cloud computing?

Before we can find out where the name comes from we must first understand what it is. Cloud computing is a model for delivering IT services. Instead of a direct connection to the server the resources are retrieved from the internet though web-based tools and applications. Data and software packages are stored in servers. The cloud computing structure allows access to information as long as an electronic device has access to the web. This allows employees to work remotely.

The information being accessed is found in the ‘clouds’ and does not require a user to be in a specific place to gain access to it. Companies are not required to own their own servers and can use capacity leased from third parties. Because of that cloud computing allows companies to reduce the cost of information management.  The cloud-like structure also allows companies to upgrade software more quickly.

Why ‘cloud’

Why is cloud computing represented by a cloud symbol? This has become a common head scratcher for many people. Judging by the number of people that don’t know the answer it seems like it would be an interesting fact to share. It might not be the kind of fact you would use at a cocktail party – if you do, they might think you’re really cool or really nerdy but that’s a gamble you’ll have to take. 

To find the answer we have to think back to the early days of network design. The role of the network engineer comprised of designing a network that would function properly. Time was dedicated to understanding what devices were on the network, how they were connected, managed, controlled, etc.

Some networks hooked to other networks or the internet. To illustrate this connection as part of the design the engineers needed a way to indicate that there was a network but also indicate that they weren’t trying to describe it because it was more than what they knew. They landed on the cloud symbol as a metaphor for the internet. It was based on a cloud drawing used in the past to represent the telephone network.

The history behind the cloud name isn’t the most dramatic one but it helps shed light on a concept when you comprehend its origin.


On June 8th, 2012, posted in: Technology & Business

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