A new name for an old idea.

Occasionally, like a certain former President, I will invent new words. At the risk of being misunderestimated, I would like to throw one of them out there and see if it will stick. It has to do with the strategery of data storage and access.

You’ve heard of “Cloud computing,” in which all your applications and data are hosted “somewhere out there in the cloud” which in reality just means you’re paying somebody to keep it for you in their data center, wherever that may be.

What if you don’t trust a Cloud provider to keep your data private, or to not go down, or out of business? You could decide to build your own server infrastructure for email, documents, whatever in your own house. Then you could (making sure everything is securely password protected first) open up some ports in the home firewall router so that you can get to your stuff from anywhere. In effect this brings the Cloud to your home.

For example: at home I have an Exchange server, a Windows terminal server with Office and other apps, massive redundant data storage (why? because I can!) and a SlingBox. I can access my programs and documents from anywhere there’s an Internet connection using the RDP client on any Windows computer, my iPad or iPhone; get to my email with all those devices or anything with a web browser; and stream the recorded TV shows from my DVR.

Just like with a Cloud solution, none of my stuff has to be stored locally on the device I am using. Unlike Cloud this doesn’t have any subscription or setup costs other than the equipment and software; if you are a computer geek like me that’s what you do for fun anyway.

It can also be more secure than Cloud. You really don’t know who has access to anything outside of your direct control regardless of what their promises are. If somebody wants my data they are going to have to physically break in my house and get it. It won’t be as simple as just abusing the “Patriot” Act and commanding my cloud provider to hand it over.

Of course making sure everything is backed up in multiple locations, in case my house blows away, is at this point entirely my responsibility. Even with a reliable Cloud provider it would be pretty stupid to not have good backups somewhere else.

The same thing that is called a “cloud” when far away is called “fog” when it’s right in front of you at ground level. So for me and the other incorrigible geeks doing this, now we have a word for it. Businesses of course have been doing this sort of thing for years, but until now it didn’t really have a name.

Fog Computing. It’s the Cloud you can touch.

Note: I guess there’s really nothing new under the sun. Before publishing this I did a quick search, somebody else has already invented the term. http://www.fogcomputing.com/ (unfortunately it looks like they went out of business) But, I didn’t know that when I came up with the idea, that’s what counts. So there.

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