Still confused about the cloud? You're not alone


Date: 20 November 2013

Still confused about the cloud? You’re not alone/Cloud question mark{{}}What is the cloud? You’ll get a very different answer depending on who you ask that questions.

That’s because ‘cloud’ is a fluffy term that has been blown around endlessly, used by different people and organisations to mean different things. There’s never been any consensus about what it actually does mean.

Some people argue it simply refers to the internet. Others suggest it’s just a manufactured term that means absolutely nothing.

In general, consumers are most aware of Amazon Cloud Drive or Apple iCloud. Often they feel as if the rest of the cloud computing industry has been thrown into the mix to confuse them.

The ‘official’ definition of cloud

The most widely accepted definition of cloud computing comes from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology. It states:

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

Now that’s all well and good, but if you’re a business owner embroiled in running and growing a company, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. You just want a straightforward solution that’s going to support your business as it grows.

Cloud in a simpler form

The company I work for — — offers cloud services. When we talk about the cloud, we are referring to a cluster of servers. These work together, providing one large platform that can be sub-divided up into smaller chunks to do useful jobs like hosting your website or running a customer database.

Each user has an isolated virtual server, with its own operating system, control panel and software. They also get a guaranteed share of network resources, giving them confidence that the cloud will perform for them.

The cloud is about flexibility

One of the biggest benefits of the cloud in this form is flexibility. Users can increase and decrease their computing power as and when they want, only paying for what the need.

More and more businesses are moving to the cloud because they like the idea of not paying for services they don’t use. It’s like buying a mansion when you only need a one-bedroom flat, with the option of upgrading to two bedrooms if you need to.

But if you’re still struggling with the question: ‘what is the cloud?’, why not see some more answers? We asked some people what the cloud means to them. See their answers in this video.

This is a guest post from

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.