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Definition: cloud

A communications network. The word "cloud" often refers to the Internet, which more precisely means a datacenter full of servers connected to the Internet performing a service. However, the term "cloud computing" refers to the software and services that have enabled the Internet to become so prominent in everyday life (see cloud computing). See private cloud and personal cloud.

A Cloud Can Be Any Network
A cloud can be a wide area network (WAN) like the public Internet or a private network of any size, local or global.

Network Cloud
For decades, diagrams have used a cloud symbol to reduce a network into entry and exit points when the network architecture is not material to the explanation. Inside the cloud, cables, routers and switches handle the forwarding of data from one point to another. See router and switch.

Today's Cloud
Most of the time, the cloud being referenced is the Internet. See cloud computing and cloud storage.

What a Cloud Looks Like
Cloud datacenters are facilities with rows of rack-mounted servers. They are devoid of humans except when repairs have to be made.