I wonder if you guys can help me understand the ‘Cloud’ a bit better?
I’m a simple guy. I know that my sites are hosted on a computer somewhere, along with a bunch of other sites. It’s a pretty simple formula I’ve been using for a long time.
Nowadays, we’re offered ‘cloud hosting’ and ‘cloud storage’. It conjures nice images of our data hovering up in a purer, safer zone, far removed from the mess down here on earth—failure-prone machines, nasty hackers and so on.
In reality, of course, your cloud-hosted data is still stored on the same grunting, nuts-and-bots machines down here on earth. So is cloud hosting anything more than a marketing buzzword? It’s certainly a clever, feel-good concept. But I’m struggling to work out what it means.
Some prominent members of the Web community have already made up their minds, mocking the ‘Cloud’ by recommending we replace the word with ‘Moon’ or ‘butt’—even writing a browser add-on to convert every instance of ‘Cloud’ to ‘butt’, and an app that repalces the word ‘Cloud’ with ‘bullsh——’. (Try it if you don’t believe me!)
On a more serious note, such people argue that the concept of ‘the cloud’ is harmful, as it creates a false sense of security and ‘clouds’ the real nature of web hosting:
‘the cloud’ is a term that sets out to deceive from the outset, imbued with the same Lakoffian toxicity as ‘downsizing’ or ‘friendly fire.’ It is the internet equivalent of miasma theory. — Jeremy Keith
But still, I’m open to other views. Does cloud hosting involve anything substantially different from regular hosting? There’s a couple of things I can think of:
A different infrastructure? Is cloud hosting about a different kind of hosting setup? For example, is it different in that it involves networks of computers, making your data safer because it’s not just stored in one place?
A different pricing model? With traditional hosting, you pay for a fixed amount of storage, bandwidth etc. over a fixed period of time. Cloud hosting, on the contrary, often involves paying as you go, for the resources you actually use. However, I’m not really convinced that a different pricing model constitutes a different kind of hosting. This same model could be applied to traditional hosting, couldn’t it?
I wonder what you guys think. At the moment, I’m inclined to believe that ‘the Cloud’ is nothing but a marketing term, but I’m open to being set straight on that! It’s just that every time I read about the subject, I’m overwhelmed by all the swanky jargon associated with cloud hosting—all of which feels more a smoke screen than an explanation.