A ‘cloud’ is little more than a server with Herculean connectivity.  For those old enough to know what a ‘mainframe’ was, this is it, delivered through the internet.

That people bought into the term ‘cloud’ as if it were some kind of new internet, technological magic, took me by surprise. The term is brilliant because it implies that what ever it is, it is just out there ‘somewhere’. A cloud can be white, fluffy and almost dream-like.
They may conjure up memories of childhood when we sometimes stared up to the sky to imagine what the cloud looked it: their shapes reminding us of earthly things. One might look like a dog or (a favorite for many kids) Mickey Mouse. There is a simplicity and innocence to those fluffy, white clouds. To a meteorologist, those ones are know as stratocumulus.

Clouds can also be dark and foreboding. To a meteorologist, those are frequently Towering Cumulonimbus, know to be the bearers of bad storms.

We should all be looking at the ‘iClouds’ with a cautious eye whether these clouds are the pretty, white fluffy ones or harbingers of bad things to come.

Many companies, Apple being the most dominant, is pushing its iCloud service. Apple users get a certain amount of storage space for ‘free’. Free, like that lunch buried in an invoice. More storage space? That will cost you.

But you’ve got access to all you data, securely stored on an external service. Correct? On Saturday, March 2, Evernote, another provider of ‘cloud’ storage space, send an email to all it’s subscribers, estimated to be about 50 million, asking them to change their passwords because hackers had breached Evernote’s security systems.

The bigger cloud activity burgeoning is running programs from a ‘cloud’. Adobe offers team-sharing cloud to their Creative Suite. From their website it promises: “Imagine if your team always had the best tools. Imagine if they could save time by seamlessly sharing files from any device. That’s Adobe® Creative Cloud™ for teams. You get the entire collection of CS6 tools and exclusive updates, along with lots of team-specific features that make working together — and managing licenses — easier than ever. All for one affordable monthly* price.”

When mainframes existed, the companies owned and maintained them. With cloud services, you will be locked into fees into perpetuity. It may be inevitable: software manufacturers could potentially all but fade out stand-alone applications; those requiring no internet connection.

That day will be game changer. The upside is that you will always be operating with the most up-to-date version of whatever software your company is using, making annual software budgeting easier and more predictable. However, it also make that expenditure less discretionary.

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