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What does Cloud Computing mean?

Cloud Computing is generally understood as the offering and use of information technology via a network of several distributed computers. Normally, this network is the Internet.

With Cloud Computing, programs and data are no longer executed or stored locally on your own computer, but are distributed over many different external servers.

This also provides access to computing power and platforms for independent software development. You use the concentrated resources of a huge network and are no longer dependent on the performance of your own hardware.

This has the great advantage that you no longer have to invest in your own costly IT infrastructure. Generally, with Cloud Computing you only pay for the service that you actually use. You “rent” IT services. 

The only thing you absolutely need to access IT services via Cloud Computing is a browser and an Internet connection. The Internet therefore plays a key role in Cloud Computing.

Indeed, the central importance of the Internet for this innovative form of IT use is already reflected in the name itself. You have probably been asking yourself for a long time why it is called “Cloud Computing”, haven’t you?

Well, the answer to this question is quite simple: The term “cloud” is just a metaphor for the Internet. So, in principle, Cloud Computing could also simply be described as Internet-based computing.


Why is the cloud a metaphor for the Internet?

The metaphorical comparison with a cloud alludes to the fact that the Internet is an abstract and formless digital space that is difficult to grasp – just like a cloud.

The characteristics of complexity and opacity also come to mind through the image of the cloud.

In reality, there is nothing mystical about the Internet or the Cloud! In fact, behind the Internet is a network of actually existing hardware, i.e. of many different computers. However, these remain invisible to individuals when using the Internet.

The vagueness associated with the concept of the Internet also applies to Cloud Computing: If you use Cloud Computing, you have no knowledge of which external server your data is currently located on or from where exactly you are getting the computing power. But this knowledge is not necessary for you. Access to resources is done without your intervention – automatically, so to speak.

This means that for you, as a person using Cloud Computing, the metaphor of the cloud may well apply. For a better understanding, however, you should keep in mind that behind the term cloud there is of course a network of actually existing servers. 


The term cloud refers to the Internet.

For example, if you store something in the cloud, your data is stored in a huge global network of physically real servers. But you don’t know where exactly your data is stored. This is why the metaphor of the complex and non-transparent cloud or cloud is used.

So now you know what is behind the – literally – opaque term cloud.

You have also learned that Cloud Computing is basically simply the Internet-based use of IT resources.

So, we can make the following simple definition of Cloud Computing:


Cloud Computing

… refers to the provision and use of IT services over a network, usually the Internet.

With Cloud Computing, you can access a wide range of IT services anywhere, anytime, without being dependent on your own hardware. You have access to storage capacity, computing power, programs or other IT services of a huge network of servers. However, you usually only pay for the level of service you actually need.


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