“The cloud,” has become a technological buzz word. People love to use it, even if they aren’t really quite sure what it is. And, in the interest of full disclosure, we pepper this site with the fact that we are “cloud-based” because it makes us sound awesome. (I mean, we are awesome, so I have no qualms with this.) But, all of this begs the question, “what the heck is ‘the cloud,’ really?”

What is the cloud?

Stratocumulus computing, perhaps?

Recently, I was targeted by an ad for a coffee mug which stated

“There is no cloud—it’s just somebody else’s computer.”

This is funny because it’s sort of true. The cloud, at its heart, is similar to the old days of mainframe computers. Back then, it was too expensive to give everyone an individual computer. So, instead, everyone had a terminal which connected to a central, powerful (for the day) mainframe computer.

Today, of course, everyone does have his or her own computer(s), but they are often less powerful than needed. And, if they happen to give up the ghost in an act of spontaneous combustion, all may be lost. This is where “somebody else’s computer” comes in. But, where the coffee mug was wrong, it’s really “others computers.” So, not only does the cloud serve as some sort of external storage, it is a way to get many computers to complete tasks possibly too intense for your local machine.

The cloud, essentially, is a resource for outsourcing computation
(and, yes, storage too.)

So, then, you might ask how the InstantCard service uses this. While a big part of what we do is printing physical ID cards, all of this is managed by our online application. When you  manage your employee’s information, card templates, etc. on our system you are not doing it though an application running on your local machine. Furthermore, you are not doing it on an app running on our machine, either!

The application is running on “the cloud”!

Why is this a good thing?

Efficient management of your employees’ information is not based on your computer’s speed.

In other words, anything you can do on the InstantCard system can be done by portable device, so long as it has internet connection. And, the speed of that device isn’t a big factor in using our system. You will always get quick results no matter where you are or what you are using.

You don’t have to worry about losing information or templates.

Every one of your computers (and ours) could all go up in some sort of ill-fated (and highly coincidental) flame; and the InstantCard system would still be going strong, with all of your information protected.

It’s more secure.

Security of your information does not rest on your local network, or even ours.

Of course, there are other benefits to outsourcing computation and storage, but these are a few of the major ones. I hope, at any rate, this helped you figure out what the heck this “cloud” thing is all about.