What is the Cloud and Where Is It?

atkins bookshelf triviaIn 2012, Wakefield Research conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans to find out how much they knew about “the cloud” and cloud computing. Perhaps the marketing of the cloud, using cloud icons in infographics, was a bit too effective, ahem, clouding the issue of what the cloud really is. Here are some amusing — but ultimately disturbing — findings from the survey:

29% of Americans believe that the cloud is actually a cloud!

51% believe that stormy weather can interfere with cloud computing!

22% pretend to know what the cloud is during everyday conversation.

17% pretend to know what cloud computing is during a first date.

16% actually know what the cloud really is.

After reading the results, one is compelled to ask — are Americans really that dumb? Sadly, when it comes to technology (and politics), the answer is a resounding “yes.”

The concept of cloud computing has been around since the 1950s, when users logged in on dumb terminals (terminals that consisted only of a monitor and keyboard) that  would access large computer mainframes, which were about the size of a room, and were connected to hard drives. In modern cloud computing, a digital device, like an iPad or laptop, functions like a dumb terminal, and web-based applications run reliably and efficiently on a network of remote computers. And rather than files being saved on a local hard drive, data is stored on hard drives (and redundant hard drives) in data centers located all around the globe.

In the mid 1990s, Compaq computer engineers coined the term “cloud computing” to refer to digital devices that share resources, a global network of computers, servers, and data centers, to store and process information. Note to the 29% — sorry, there is no cloud in the sky that contains and processes data. And while we are on the subject of dispelling myths — there is no such thing as the tooth fairy. In place of beautiful, wispy white clouds floating along blue skies, imagine massive windowless multi-level buildings, secured by a barbed wire perimeter, that are filled with thousands of servers, sucking up enough electricity to power a small city, and generating tremendous heat that require powerful cooling systems. Yes, those ugly technological behemoths are your clouds.

Let’s return to the results of the survey. When asked about the impact of cloud computing, the respondents offered these insights:

68% see cloud computing as the future and critical to saving the economy.

40% see the major advantage of cloud computing as being able to work from home in the nude.

32% were concerned about security of stored data.

31% were concerned about the privacy of stored data.

To borrow from the immortal Bard, “O brave new world, that has such people in it!”

Read related posts: How Fast is the Human Brain Compared to a Computer?
Ten Interesting Facts About the Human Body
How Fast is the Earth Moving?
What if Superman Punched You?
What is the Value of a Human Life?
Fastest Man in the World

For further reading: http://www.webpronews.com/americans-think-cloud-computing-comes-from-actual-clouds-2012-08/
http://gizmodo.com/what-is-the-cloud-and-where-is-it-1682276210

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