The Cloud as a Network - dummies

By Ken Withee

Network diagrams often show a network as a cloud, because it would be too complex to diagram all the components that make up the network (such as routers, switches, hubs, and cables). The biggest network, and cloud, of all is the Internet.

When a diagram shows communication over the Internet, a big cloud is used because it would be impossible to try to show all the network hardware that might be encountered between two computers communicating via the Internet. The cloud simply becomes an abstraction for a network with the assumption that communication can occur over that cloud.

If a company sells access to software that lives in their data centers and that is connected to by customers over the Internet that solution is said to live “in the cloud.” The term comes from the perspective of the customer, who may have no idea where the actual servers that serve up the software are located.

From the customers’ perspective, they just access the software using an Internet domain name. This cloud concept and technology is nothing new. Whenever you surf the web, you use a service in the cloud. You just know that when you type in the web address, the site appears in your web browser. This concept is catching on with business applications; you hear more and more about cloud solutions.