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

A Cloud May Refer to Any Network
A cloud can be a wide area network (WAN) like the public Internet or a private, national or global network. The term can also refer to a local area network (LAN) within an organization.

For decades, network diagrams have used a cloud-like symbol to reduce the entire infrastructure of a network into simple entry and exit points when the specific network architecture is not material to the illustration. Inside the cloud, there may be any number of cables, routers and switches that handle the forwarding of data from one point to another. The cloud diagram may also include the servers that perform the required data processing.

Network Cloud
For decades, the cloud symbol has represented a network without divulging technical details. The symbol is used when only the points of entry and exit need to be identified.

Today's Cloud
Quite often, the cloud is the Internet, and cloud computing on the Internet has several advantages for developers, content publishers and users. See cloud computing.

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