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The IT History Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of knowledge about the people, products, and companies that together comprise the field of computing.

Since 1978 our organization, and its hundreds of members, have worked toward this goal, and we invite you to contribute your own knowledge and memories on this website! (read more)

Where exactly is the "cloud"?

You have probably heard the news about the failure of Amazon's Cloud computing services, in spite of their claim that it was geographically dispersed, redundant, etc. This is a relatively new phenomenon, but Martin Campbell-Kelly discussed its early genesis in his chapter in our book The Internet & American Business (Aspray & Ceruzzi, 2008) (shameless plug). Anyway, I did some sleuthing & found the location: in Ashburn, Virginia, an old farming community just north of Dulles Airport, at the west end of "Internet Alley" (another shameless plug). Old maps show the town as "Farmwell," but it was renamed after a tree that caught fire from a lightning strike.  When I was writing Internet Alley the center of internet data switching and storage was in Tysons Corner, Virginia; now it has shifted west to this little town.

So in spite of the term used to describe it, the "cloud" is not up there; it is right here on the ground.  If you want to see these places, the best way is to rent a bicycle and ride along the W&OD rail-trail.

Revision of July 2011: The photo is of a typical view of the trail near Ashburn. For another view of the Cloud, look  Here .


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