Cloud is this, Cloud is that, what is your Cloud definition?

The Clouds are Cloudy

When we look at the things that make our world more productive, comfortable and enjoyable, do we ever stop to wonder and think, how does that work? How does my phone know I need an update? How does my smart TV get the content it delivers? Chances are, probably not. Much like the utilities that we enjoy like water, electricity and gas, it’s something to be expected. We don’t really care on the delivery mechanism, we don’t care how or where it comes from. The only thing on our mind is how I am going to post this fabulous selfie of myself and the team mascot. Now hyperbole aside, much of what we do and depend on today reside on platforms that live, store, distribute and secure our everyday lives in a digital format. I am referring to the much over played, hyped and over used phrase of the 21st century (in my opinion)  “The CLOUD”.

The term “cloud” is probably the most marketed yet most misunderstood technical term ever to grace our collective minds. To be fair, it’s not the marketer’s fault that this basic word deemed to reflect something nebulous, fluffy and potentially stormy would get the bad rap it has had over the last 10 years. However, no one really ever takes the opportunity to clarify, in a public forum, what the cloud truly represents. The IT industry, as a whole, should take blame for this massive misunderstanding as just about every manufacturer out there has its own take on the cloud. This includes software developers, hardware vendors, the list goes on and on. I’ve seen countless ads touting the power of the cloud and how it can revolutionize the way we do business, save money and save time, but what they don’t bother to tell you is that the cloud is not for everyone or every business, not to mention it’s not as easy to deploy as one would think.

Your Cloud Definition

Before I get ahead of myself, let’s take a step back and look at what the cloud represents in the minds of the average Joes. I have asked several friends, who are not in IT, to share with me their understanding of what the cloud is, and their answers are as follow:

“Microsoft is the cloud.”

“The cloud is where I save all my stuff.”

“Isn’t the internet the cloud?”

It didn’t surprise me to hear these and other explanations given the way it gets sold in the media. However when I asked my buds who work in IT, I got a similar set of answers and that surprised me given that they are more than just consumers of the technology, they are adopters and advocates of the so called cloud technology. This gave me a moment of pause and made me think, why do my non-technical friends and technical friends think alike when it comes to the cloud? Is it that they just don’t understand? Do they not care? So I went back and asked them the question differently. How do you think the cloud works? This is where the lightbulb went off and I had an AH HA moment.

One technical friend said Microsoft Azure provides him cloud services that he stores information on, they just use software to attach to it but wasn’t completely sure of the hardware they use.

Another technobud said he built his own private cloud and uses virtualization to provide his users access to the servers at the office.

One non-technical friend said he uses drop box to save files and retrieve them, and he likes the way he can use it on his laptop and phone to access what he needs.

The Real Cloud Definition

So the general feel I got from my friends was that the cloud is a mechanism to store and access information. They are all happy with the concept of “Hey, I can get to my stuff from anywhere and any device.” None of them really cared about the security, means of access or what it’s stored on. In fact, they only care that they can get to their stuff easily. Have we made technology seem so simple that even complex concepts such as the cloud can seem so trivial? Have we clouded (PUN) everyone’s minds with the idea that all you need is internet access to save your information?

In my next post, I will follow up on the concept of the cloud and how it can be confusing for users and organizations to adopt, and why I think security is overlooked. Stay tuned for Cloudy with a chance of confusion.

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