Cloud Computing Explained

Cloud Computing Explained

by Mark Fetherolf, Chief Technology Officer, InterAct

Cloud computing brings a sensational array of opportunities to the public safety community, not only to eliminate the cost of massively redundant infrastructure, but also to open communication channels that have long been blocked by incompatible information systems. Interagency dispatch, coordinated response, data sharing, workload balancing, disaster recovery, unified analytics, and connecting in new ways with the public are among the most exciting.

Cloud computing makes it possible for public safety practitioners to:

  • Save money by eliminating the redundancy of everyone having their own on-premise systems;

  • Share information and collaborate easily and naturally;

  • Have ultra-high-availability systems and advanced security;

Unfortunately, cloud jargon has become a source of  confusion. Depending on who is using them, the terms have a variety of meanings. And sometimes the confusion is intentional:

Verb /kloud-ˈwäSHiNG/

  1. The purposeful and sometimes deceptive attempt by a vendor to rebrand an old product or service by associating the buzzword “cloud” with it.

If you have ever done a Google search or ordered from Amazon, you made use of cloud computing. But what is cloud computing really?

Cloud computing technologies were developed originally to make it possible for Internet applications to support large numbers of users efficiently and economically. At first they were highly complex, expensive, and affordable only to the largest service providers.  In recent years, cloud computing tools have evolved. Today, they are more affordable, less complex, and applicable to a wider variety of applications.

The term “cloud” comes from the symbol used in network diagrams, like the one below, that shows workstations connected to a server. But, despite the eye-catching cloud, it may or may not depict cloud computing.


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