Thinning Out The Cloud: Part Two

To follow up on last month’s article announcing the death of “The Cloud” as a term to describe the relatively recent barrage of products and services with some element of remote storage, this month’s article will take a look at some of the more popular services billed as residing in “The Cloud” and break down what they actually do.

How it’s billed: Computer backups in the cloud
Noteworthy tagline: Carbonite keeps what’s important safe in the cloud
What it does: Carbonite is an offsite backup service, with several offerings targeted both to consumers and organizations. Depending on the subscribed service level, a program installed either on a personal computer or a network server will identify files of a certain type and back them up periodically to a remote hosted server until your subscribed file limit is reached.
What it really is: Carbonite is largely a remote hosting service, as customers lease/subscribe to a specified amount of server space for file storage. Specific tasks, like the automated backup, are performed via a program residing on the customer’s equipment.

How it’s billed: A cloud-based expense reporting program
Noteworthy tagline: Submit your expense report online or from your mobile – anytime from anywhere
What it does: Concur is a travel and expense management service, letting your organization’s employees track their travel and expenses through a website or a mobile app, and allowing your organization’s finance department keep track of expenses and monitor for fraud.
What it really is: With nothing required to be installed on the client’s machine or network (the mobile app is not required, or necessary) and  everything hosted remotely by Concur and accessed via a login and password at, this is a classic example of Software as a Service, or SaaS.

Google Drive (formerly Google Docs)
How it’s billed: Web-based office productivity software and storage
Noteworthy tagline: Wherever you are, your stuff is just… there.
What it does: Google Drive combines the rudimentary word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation offerings of Google Docs with separately accessible online file storage, all tied to a free email address.
What is really is: Google Drive is a true hybrid, with file storage services rooted in remote hosting and the Doc applications rooted in SaaS.

Microsoft SkyDrive and Office 365
How it’s billed: Web-based office productivity software and storage
Noteworthy tagline: 7GB of free cloud storage that’s accessible from anywhere (SkyDrive), Your complete office in the cloud (Office 365)
What it does: SkyDrive is Microsoft’s online file storage answer to Google Drive, and SkyDrive Apps are its answer to Google Docs. Office 365 is a new method of licensing Microsoft Office software that includes a larger online file storage capacity. SkyDrive, and SkyDrive apps, are a storage solution first and a software solution second as the Apps are mid-grade versions of their namesakes. Office 365 is a software solution first and foremost, as the apps are full-featured that still offer the ability to save a file offline.
What it really is: SkyDrive and SkyDrive Apps not surprisingly follow Google’s lead, with the Apps rooted in SaaS and the file storage using remote hosting ideas. Office 365 is a more robust SaaS offering, with file storage available in either remote hosted SkyDrive or on local physical media.

In summary, the next time you hear someone bragging that their product or service is in “The Cloud”, know these two things: 1) a 2012 study conducted by Citrix showed that 29% of people interviewed thought “The Cloud” involved actual, in-the-sky-and-making-rain clouds and 51% thought stormy weather would interfere with “cloud computing. 2) You are one of the apparently rare people who know that everything on the Internet is in “The Cloud”.

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