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Everybody's heard the buzz, but most people I talk to are confused about how to understand "The Cloud." Even for many that understand the buzz or work with Cloud computers, explaining The Cloud can be daunting.
Cloud Explanations and Illustrations
I usually explain it using a napkin network diagram of the internet which is represented as a cloud. This is very different than a traditional hardwired network diagram like for telephones. Traditional hard wired networks link two endpoints (i.e. tin cans) with a single line (i.e. a wire).
The internet, however, links two endpoints (your computers) through a variable path represented by a cloud shape. Heraclitus had no idea how right he would be about the internet when he stepped in his river. The architecture of the Internet is almost like a living thing that changes every time you send a piece of data into it. Since the path between the points changes constantly, the connection is drawn as a shape, rather than a line.
The diagram explanation may be interesting, but it still doesn't give a good explanation of what the cloud does for you. The Wikipedia article on The Cloud doesn't even mention the diagram. I'll get around to adding it one day. In the meantime you can read the full Wiki article, or I also found the video above that gives a good explanation of what the cloud means to you if you want to have the power, flexibility and cost savings many businesses are getting from letting go of owning their own IT.
Let the Cobbler Make Shoes
Let the cobbler make shoes is the old saying, and let the techies own the servers is the mantra of the cloud.