Crazy little thing called cloud


I’m sure you’ve heard of that thing called the cloud.

You know, that buzz word analysts and experts toss around relentlessly. All the leading computer companies want us to use their cloud: Google, Amazon and Microsoft. It’s all the rage.

But what is it?

In reality, it’s just a bunch of servers located in a cage in a datacenter. Not that anyone out there thought it was actually based in the clouds, right? But did you know it’s actually been around for a long time?


A little bit of personal history: When I was in the Air Force and in technical school, my instructors would periodically draw the cloud – a really little one – on white boards and then indicate what happens outside the cloud’s walls. Everything that happened within the cloud’s walls – well, that we never got into. It just happened, like magic. Our instructors mostly glossed over that part. Whenever this would happen, everyone would laugh.

In the military, no one laughs. Especially at instructors. But there we were, laughing.

Beyond what happens in the cloud, the big question, my instructors said, was whether an organization wanted to manage its own infrastructure and software with on-premises servers or outsource it via the cloud. This is as true today as it was back in 1999.

It was also true long before the turn of the century. The cloud, you see, was around long before then. And not just as a concept on a white board.

The origins of cloud computing date back to the late sixties, though it was called an intergalactic computer network back then. As I said, it was the sixties. But the idea was to create a global computer network where people could access programs and data from anywhere they were in the world – essentially, the cloud.

Recently, Hyland gave me the opportunity to manage the Core Operations Team within our Global Cloud Services department. This means my team is responsible for online content within our datacenters worldwide – better known as the OnBase Cloud.

As I mentioned, this isn’t my first experience with the cloud. But it’s certainly my first opportunity to touch it with my own hands, to take those little drawings on white boards and make them real. To go beyond the “magic” my instructors glossed over.

But the weird thing is that I don’t see or touch any physical things and machines. My team and I accomplish everything remotely. We don’t walk into server rooms and feel a rush of cold air. We sit at our desks.

That’s why it was so reassuring when I walked into the back-up site in our Cleveland-based server room a few months ago. Everything is still there. The back end is what it’s always been, but you and I never have to deal with it. We can just consider it magic.

It’s a new world.

I’m proud of the OnBase Cloud. It offers users scalability and flexibility, providing the smallest organizations access to the same enterprise content management (ECM) solutions as the large ones – and allowing their solution to grow as they do. And since the OnBase Cloud stores and manages more than one billion documents and counting, maybe my instructors should have drawn bigger clouds.

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Kevin Hout

A veteran of the United States Air Force, Kevin Hout has more than 14 years of IT experience. Passionate about leading professionals and working through difficult technical issues, Kevin earned... read more about: Kevin Hout