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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How would you answer?

My older sister just called from her meeting with a group of other women from her church.  They wanted an answer to what would seem to be a simple question:  What is the cloud?  Is it a physical thing?  Bear in mind that my sister, by her own admission, doesn't really "get" computers.  I answered that it is both a physical thing (servers, data centers, cables, routers, and so on) plus a virtual thing (applications and storage, for example).  They wanted to know if it's something that floats in the air like a traditional cloud.  I said no, not really.  They wanted to know if things in the cloud are permanent.  I said they can be.  They wanted to know if those things could be destroyed.  I said yes, but, thinking of Scott Thompson, I said "Don't count on it being destroyed."  They wanted to know if the cloud itself could be destroyed.  I said, "It's theoretically possible, but it (the Internet) was engineered back in the 60s to withstand nuclear war, so don't count on it." 

How did I do?  What would you say to a group of intelligent people who don't really understand computers and networks to answer questions like these?

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