Computer question: In the clouds

The Vernon PC Users' Club explains the ins and outs of computers

Over the last few years the word “cloud” has entered the computer vernacular to describe a somewhat amorphous data storage medium.

Companies like Apple and IBM have embraced the term as a natural extension to the familiar hard drives and thumb drives. Physically, the cloud is a collection of mass storage devices with dedicated servers connected over the Internet. It may be housed in one room, or scattered over several continents. Vendors promote the cloud as a data storage service that is fully secure, has unlimited capacity and is cheap and accessible.

“Parallel processing” is a term that has been around for decades and refers to the concurrent operation of two or more computers, each with its own operating system but under the overall control of a “super” operating system. Hence the term “supercomputer,” which pre-dates the Internet. They can be found in large government, military or research establishments engaged in heavy-duty data processing like that involved with weather system analysis, nuclear research, gnome processing, census derivatives and the like. Typically they are confined to one location with various input/output devices connected over a local or wide area network.

Now fast-forward to the present and the ubiquity of the Internet. Substitute for the supercomputer any array of computers located anywhere in the world, replace the super operating system with the Internet and for the input/output devices read phone, tablet, laptop, desktop and whatever similar device you could name. What do you get? A cloud computer!

The Vernon PC Users’ Club meets the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Schubert Centre in the cafeteria. Call Betty at 542-7024 or Gina at 550-6126 for more information.