Cloud technology is one of the more misunderstood subjects in web development and the computer world in general. The reason it is so confusing is because mobile devices need a way to define their own capabilities without referring to themselves as computers. Even though they are computers, accurate terminology ends up being more confusing than a metaphor. All in all, cloud means server. In just about every sentence where “cloud” is used, the word “server” can be substituted and the sentence will become more accurate.
Understanding cloud technology…
Why Use the Cloud?
Storing information on a remote machine and then retrieving it later is one of the most useful capabilities of computer software because a network of computers is exponentially more powerful than a single computer. Software that takes advantage of the capabilities provided by this dramatically increased power can do many things that would otherwise be impractical or impossible. Something as simple as storing information on a remote server (or “in the cloud”) gives a computer user options they wouldn’t otherwise have.
Examples of Cloud Functionality
For software developers, the ability to use remotely hosted source control for their programming projects is a powerful alternative to simply storing all the information on their workstation. Source control programs can organize software into working collections, each labeled with a certain feature set. This allows other developers to know which version of the application they are working on without having to examine or test their copy of the source code.
In addition to source control, a remote server gives a computer user a way to remotely back up their data. If their workstation fails, and their data has been consistently stored elsewhere, then their work is preserved. This is one of the most popular and successful features of cloud storage.
Limitations of the Cloud
As client-server technology advances, more applications of cloud services will become available to both computers and mobile devices. The fastest growing segment of this technology can be found in the gaming industry, where highly sophisticated game clients make use of cloud technology to present their games and manage player economies and accounts.
The cloud should be presented as what it really is in order to make the basics of technology easier for users to understand. During that process, the cloud metaphor will help both users and developers visualize the progress of networking and software development.
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