Wikipedia defines cloud computing as:
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).
There! Simple. Post done. I don’t know why anyone had any trouble with. . .
Okay. Fine. That’s not a very good explanation.
The cloud is big, and it’s complicated. But at its heart is a very simple logic: take all the stuff that you have spread out on individual devices, and make it so that it’s available on all your devices, from the best tablets or laptops to your flat screen TV.
Let’s see if we can break it down a little more, and find out which cloud is the best cloud.
Much like actual clouds, The Cloud doesn’t come in one form.
You’ve got your low, fluffy Stratocumulus clouds like Apple’s iCloud.
You’ve got your high level Cirrus clouds that seem to stretch into everything with Google’s suite of cloud offerings.
Within each cloud, your data and programs all intermingle, and your various devices with “cloud capability” are able to get access to them. Unfortunately, clouds don’t neatly cross over into other clouds. When you choose one cloud, you tend to close off access to another one (or at least severely limit your access to it).
For example, choosing the iCloud means that when you use your iPhone, AppleTV, iPad, and Mac, you can transfer movies, documents, and music seamlessly between devices without ever connecting them to each other.
While it’s not as dire as drawing lines between North and South, getting that seamless feel in your own personal cloud depends a lot on investing in a single family of products and services.
Let’s start by looking at the Apple Cloud.
Choose the iCloud if you’re mostly looking for a service that seamlessly handles music, photos, and video, and lets you sync your playlists seamlessly from your computer to your phone or tablet, or push video to your your best flat screen TV (via the ever handy AppleTV).
Music and videos you purchased directly from Apple are stored for free, and can be synced between up to 10 of your iCloud enabled devices (that is, iTunes enabled computer, iPhone, iPods, and iPad). If you’ve got a large collection of music that you didn’t purchase directly from iTunes — that is, you ripped from your personal CD collection (how else could you have gotten it, right?) — you can pay a $25 annual fee to sync your library with iTunes Match, and upload songs that may not be available through iTunes to the service for access like you would get for regular purchases.
While Apple’s suite of services does handle document storage, with up to 5GB free, or up to 50GB at $20 per additional 10GB, your mileage may vary on how useful the storage is, especially if you deal with a lot of large documents.
So is the iCloud the only game in town? Not by a longshot. Next, we’ll be taking a look at services offered by Google. In the meantime, let us know what you think about the iCloud in the comments.