What is the definition of cloud computing? To understand the term “cloud computing,” you must first understand the two words individually before you can understand them collectively.
What is the cloud? “Cloud” here does not refer to the white, fluffy natural phenomenon that accounts for rain and adds some variant to the colors of the sky.
It is not the white, up-close and personal feature you notice when on a plane that has left the airport and is headed to your intended destination.
Instead, “cloud” here refers to that which takes place in the virtual world — the World Wide Web, known commonly as the Internet.
The natural item, the cloud, is something that you see, but never touch. You realize it’s in the sky, know its presence because clouds carry the rain before the rain falls to the earth.
If you’ve ever looked up at the sky when it looks as if it will rain, you may notice that a cloud moves before the rain falls to the earth — or see the clouds light up before you hear the “boom” that comes with a lightning storm.
The Internet, like the cloud, is a feature of everyday life that we see, but do not touch. It is not something physical like your computer, computer screen, or smartphone. Rather, the Internet refers to a world of software offered on your computer (and by way of wireless services) that helps you attend to needs and wants that you can or cannot accomplish in your local community.
For example, although you can drive to your local lighting and heat/AC company and pay the bill for services provided, you can also create an online account and pay your bill electronically. If you cannot drive to your local company, however, you can still maintain an email or user account and pay your bill online each month.
A proper definition of cloud computing involves two things: services/software and hardware.
While the software/services may or may not involve actual CDs, web apps, and so on, the hardware you use to access these services and software has a physical existence.
First, let’s discuss the services and software. There was a time once when Internet service was provided by way of a dial tone and dial-up. You could not go online and, by way of free WiFi (what is common at many restaurants nowadays), receive free Internet access.
When the Internet was first provided by way of desktop PCs into homes, it was a luxury that you had to pay for in order to enjoy.
Libraries provided free Internet, but you were out of luck to find free Internet anywhere else around.
Now, however, Internet access comes free by way of WiFi (known formally as “wireless fidelity”). The one significant service you need in order to perform cloud computing is Internet service.
Internet service can be provided in two ways: 1) WiFi or 2) cellular connectivity.
WiFi is a common type of Internet that anyone can have access to, provided he or she has a cloud computing device (I will cover this later in the article). Cellular connectivity, on the other hand, is important to have in the event that free WiFi is not available. If the Internet connection at your local airport goes out, then you may be thankful that you have cell connectivity, often by way of a tablet or smartphone.
Cellular connectivity, unlike WiFi, is expensive and will require an additional monthly fee with your phone carrier (in addition to your voice and texting services).
While you can pay for cellular service, you cannot make use of it without a cellular-enabled or WiFi-enabled device. 3G and 4G LTE are examples of the types of cellular connectivity consumers are afforded in the marketplace today. Most devices that say “WiFi + 3G” or “WiFi + 4G” include both forms of Internet (WiFi and LTE). These devices let you use either Internet form to gain access to needed services and webpages when on the go.
Services and software can arrive in a few forms: a CD or disc, web applications (apps), or webpage (URL). Desktop PC users often have discs that provide access to needed Internet services, and some Internet services may require the use of a disc or CD (although many no longer do).
As for web applications, mobile smartphone and tablet users will find that, while webpages and URLs are easy to access, web applications have a simple process: just touch the icon on your iPad or iPhone and — VOILA! — you have arrived at the web page and can log in with your username and password.
I have often accessed my Yahoo and Gmail accounts by typing in “www.yahoo.com” or “yahoo.com,” for example, but web apps cut down on Internet typing: just press the icon and go to the webpage immediately without waiting for the page to load.
There are web apps you can download (for free, even) from Apple’s or Amazon’s App Store that are free of charge: banking apps (Wells Fargo, Citibank, or Bank of America), shopping apps (the Apple Store), email accounts (Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, etc.), and so on.
Web applications are not only faster to open and make service access easy, but they also allow you the ease of entering them after you leave a web application. On the iPad, for example, you can access your Google + app, click the home button and return to the main screen without logging out of your account; what this does is allow you the privilege to touch the Google + icon and return to your Google + page anytime without having to log in over and over again.
Another excellent web application that may prove vital to you consists of what is known as the Remote Desktop application. For those who do not want to carry around their laptops constantly, the Remote Desktop application saves you the time and hassle.
Depending on your proximity from the device, you may be able to access your computer’s desktop by a password — without having to touch the laptop screen. This comes in handy when, in my case, your laptop keyboard is acting up and you need to know “How to get Microsoft Office on Your iPad” or how to access your Windows desktop on your Android tablet.
Some web applications are known as “framework apps” and provide apps within the application itself. In other words, they open the door to additional web applications that you need. When you purchase an iPad from the Apple Corporation, you will notice that “iTunes store” and “App Store” are already preloaded onto your device.
When you enter into the App Store, you will find that it is a store full of web applications (games, wallpaper, magazines, social media, etc.) that you can use to consume your device’s internal memory storage.
Google + serves as a social media app that is also a framework app: while you log in to add status updates to your account, you can also select Google’s “Instant Upload” feature and have unlimited photo storage on your account.
The Instant Upload feature is not something that you need in a social media app, but Google thought it necessary to add to an app that showcases your life’s photos and photo events. For all the web apps that you download, however, you will take away from your internal memory storage.
For those who often save their internal memory storage for wallpapers and games, have no fear — webpages are here! Web pages are an excellent way to save your internal memory storage when using mobile smartphones and tablets. If you want to download the Bank of America app but do not have enough storage on your iPad (or want to save it for something else), just remember the URL or do a Google search for the B of A website.
This will prevent you from downloading an app that will prevent you from downloading some new wallpapers or HD games later on. While I have always believed that 16GB is too little for a device (and 32GB is the “Goldilocks” storage amount), you could (theoretically) live off of 16GB — should you decide to type in URLs instead of downloading your favorite social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.
This is a cost-cutting measure but one that some people find it easy to live with.
You cannot access all of these services and software without a cloud computing device. Nevertheless, a proper definition of cloud computing must discuss not only the physical hardware (devices) used, but the services themselves — the services that, like a cloud in the sky, can be seen but not grasped in tangible form. It is these services that make having cloud computing devices (smartphone, tablet, PC, laptop) worthwhile.