I don't know if this question is suited for superuser or not, but it doesn't seem right for Stack Overflow. Basically I have been hearing a lot about the cloud, but I don't understand what exactly it is. I am familiar with things that I am told are cloud computing, e.g. Amazon EC2, but I don't know what makes EC2 cloud computing as opposed to anything else. Is it just a matter of storing data at a remote location rather than on your own private servers that you physically own? I am not looking for a 2 sentence answer - I'm really looking for a detailed explanation of what the cloud actually is (and is not), because after watching at least ten youtube videos on this I still don't get it.

  • Too technical - not what I want. I'm looking for a super straightforward and clear explanation without jargon. All the articles and video's I've seen so far have a lot of jargon that seems to only make sense to people who Already know what cloud computing is.
    – Kvass
    Jul 9, 2013 at 3:31
  • (Private or Public) "Cloud" is a cloud infrastructure operated for an organization, whether managed internally or by a third-party and hosted internally or externally...
    – Logman
    Jul 9, 2013 at 3:32
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    Cloud used to be a service hosted off site, service can be anything from email, storage to just about any appliance. But there is grey area... and your cloud can be anywhere.... china or in your own building.
    – Logman
    Jul 9, 2013 at 3:38
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1 Answer 1


The Cloud has come to mean just about anything out of sight, out of mind; generally with clustering (Many servers sharing the tasks / duties) and remote accessibility.

You can thing of it as a simple network flowchart:

enter image description here

The Cloud is not specific. It could be off-site third part hosted network solutions, or it could be a cloud based Virtual Machine farm. It could also be something like DropBox, where the "Cloud Storage" means that servers somewhere storing data, and it really doesn't matter where they are, who operates them or if the services are located physically on the same content as the rest of the service or data.

  • If you're hosting something illegal it does matter where it's hosted.
    – Jon
    Jul 9, 2013 at 4:37
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    @chipperyman573 not as far as the definition of cloud goes. Megaupload cloud storage was cloud whether it was legal or not. Jul 9, 2013 at 4:38
  • I suppose it won't break the definition but if you're hosting something illegal you'll get in trouble if it's not offshore.
    – Jon
    Jul 9, 2013 at 4:40
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    So much stuff is being cloudwashed currently that "Cloud Computing" is whatever you say it is. Originally, it just meant distributed computing resources as opposed to local only. Jul 9, 2013 at 5:01

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