Cloud Computing: What is it?

Teresa Craighead

“Cloud computing” is often talked about, but less often understood. This winter and spring, an ongoing series of Tech Talks will focus on various aspects of cloud computing at Cornell. The cloud is about:

Moving computing off your computer and off Cornell’s premises.

• You can store personal photos with an online service like Picasa ( instead of on your computer.

• Cornell can move an entire service like email from Cornell servers to ones owned and managed externally. Read about Office 365 (

Focusing on what matters instead of on technology.

• You can spend more time collaborating, teaching or learning and less on struggling to share files, papers, or results by using a service like Box (

• Cornell can refocus a wide range of resources (staff, money and time) on education, research and outreach by purchasing widely used services like email, calendar and video platforms instead of building and supporting them on premise.


• If you don’t like your personal email service, Yahoo! mail, for example, you are free to pick another online email service like Gmail, import your data and move on.

• If Cornell finds a service that is a better fit, less expensive or has more features we need, we can choose to move to it without abandoning a large investment in a locally built and supported application.

Easy access.

• You can access cloud services via the web, store your data with the services, and reach services from a variety of devices so you can access services and your data from anywhere.


• Cornell can provide a service in a matter of months, or less, from the time a need is identified.


• Cornell can invest less on technology infrastructure; buy only what it needs when it needs it; get more or less capacity as required and take advantage of favorable pricing based on economies of scale. Commoditized, low-cost IT services are here.

More information: Visit the Guide to Understanding Cloud Services (