What is Meant by The Cloud?

The cloud is the Internet.  It's a figure of speech.  Now with wireless networking in homes, offices, restaurants and hotels, and 3G and 4G wireless cellular broadband services, we are in a new era.  This kind of invisible connectivity is referred to now as the cloud in the sense that you can be away from home or a workplace, and access data and electronic services for work or leisure.

In reality your data is transmitted to your device through radio waves in the air, either from a wireless router or a cell tower, across vast networks from a server located someplace.  With a GPS navigator you know your coordinates are beamed down from a satellite.  But all of this is invisible, disguised as the open air, and apparently (once it's set up) it just works.

A cloud based service could be any Internet based service that replaces something that would previously need to be on your own PC or on the premises of a workplace.  Webmail such as Yahoo! Mail, Google's Gmail, or Microsoft's HotMail or Live Mail could be called a cloud service since they replace the e-mail program with a website.  They could remove the e-mail server from a workplace, and replace it with one more distant, run by one of those companies for example.  Cloud storage would refer to a service where you can securely upload and download your files.  A cloud backup service would keep backups of your PC off-site.  Cloud computing would basically involve a cluster of server computers that can run software that takes advantage of a cluster architecture, while delivering fast response across the Internet.

In some cases being in the cloud is advantageous.  Sometimes it's one less thing to have to manage or care about, and web based services can be incrementally upgraded and improved for free.  In the case of a subscription service, routine improvements could be included.  Other times having things locally can be preferred.  For example Microsoft Word, a part of the Microsoft Office suite of applications, is faster, better, and more robust than something web based like Google Docs or Microsoft Office Web Apps.  Likewise a local spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel is far better than a web based spreadsheet, although sometimes you may want the convenience of editing, collaborating, and sharing a worksheet across the Internet.  Sometimes free online services are supported by advertising which can at times seem intrusive, so in these cases depending on your preference, using software that you have purchased could be better.

How about having your own personal "cloud"?

KillaRad offers the RadMedia Home Server, an easy to use, set and forget appliance for homes or small businesses of ten or less people.  When you're away and you want to access documents, photos, music, videos, or recorded TV, you can log in over the Internet from another PC or a Windows Phone 7 smartphone to access those files.

If you need direct access to a computer, you can go right in and access your actual PC's Windows Desktop with all of your e-mail, doc's, and programs – provided that the PC is using a Business or Professional or Ultimate version of Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7.  If you need that with a PC with a Home Edition of Windows then that PC could always be upgraded to gain this capability with the server.

Now with Windows 7 with a Media Center PC you can consolidate all of your recorded TV onto your home server to save space on your Media Center PC.  Then you watch shows over your network, which you can also do from any other capable PC in your home (recorded shows, not live TV).  A Windows 7 HomeGroup in a Windows 7 household along with the new Libraries technology makes file sharing and management easier than ever.  The Windows Home Server ties it together with automated nightly PC backups, and easy no-fee remote access to the PCs on your network.  There's no need to write down IP addresses or pay for a static IP address with your ISP.  All you'll need to know is YourAccountName dot HomeServer dot com.  You can even create guest accounts to share media with friends and family through the Internet.

KillaRad Webmaster
Updated June 17, 2012