The cloud that’s taken the world by storm

The cloud that’s taken the world by storm

“Cloud Computing”

Regardless of whether you’re from an IT background or not, this term has become commonplace over the last few years. It’s on its way to becoming the largest cloud the earth has ever witnessed.

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So what exactly is this cloud, and what’s in it for me?

The word “cloud” is just a metaphor which refers to the Internet. The name goes back to the age of flow charts and network diagrams when the infrastructure of the Internet was represented as a puffy white cloud with incoming and outgoing connections. Sharing is the key to the cloud. Cloud resources are usually not only shared by multiple users but can also be reallocated on demand.

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Cloud computing means different things to different people, but it essentially means that your computer needs or services can be performed over a network (the Internet) using shared resources, software and information through other devices (by a service provider) rather than on your own computer.

The reason that cloud computing is such a bombshell is because it doesn’t use much of your computer’s hardware or software resources, rather it runs all your services over the Internet. Also, you can store all your data on the cloud and retrieve it on any device-your laptop or your smartphone whenever you need it. What’s really cool about this feature is that if you’re running a company and need to perform accounts, or update your customer information, you don’t need to install an accounting software or have a copy of your customer database on all the workstations in your office. You can have just one of each on the cloud and all of your employees can access these from any device, via the Internet. So the greatest advantage of cloud computing is that you save space. Tons of it, or rather tera or zeta bytes of it. Pretty soon it will be bye-bye local storage.

From free services provided by Google to Amazon’s EC2 a virtual computing environment could also save you a lot of money on purchasing servers, software, network equipment and so on. Users can buy into a fully outsourced set of online services instead.

Here are some ways we’re using the cloud, and we may not even realize it!

  • Facebook’s cloud computers and software are good for connecting with friends and family, and giving yourself an online identity.
  • E-mail, the software and storage for your account doesn’t exist on your computer – it’s on the service’s computer cloud.
  • Amazon’s Kindle cloud computers are good at storing and syncing the e-books you buy from Amazon.

So there’s no turning back, is there?

For better or for worse,cloud computing is here to stay. The advantages are compelling, to say the least. Cloud computing allows you to buy in only the services you want, when you want them, cutting the upfront capital costs of computers and peripherals. You avoid equipment going out of date and can add or remove services on the go. Since it’s well managed, cloud computing is much more reliable and consistent than in-house IT infrastructure.

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Unfortunately, instant convenience comes at a price. Upfront capital costs become ongoing operating costs to run your services instead. That might work out to be much more expensive in the long-term. There are some drawbacks which need to be addressed though, the most important being data security.Using cloud-powered technologies means you need to provide your service provider with access to important business data. It could accidentally or deliberately alter or even delete information.

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Another thing to worry about is downtime. As cloud service providers take care of a number of clients each day, they can become overwhelmed and may even come up against technical outages. This can lead to your business processes being temporarily suspended.

Flexibility in migrating services isn’t something that has evolved yet. Organizations may find it difficult to migrate their services from one vendor to another. The New York Times puts it this way: “If you need handholding or if you are not comfortable trying to find advice on user forums, the cloud probably is not ideal”.

Unequivocally, the advantages of cloud computing outweigh the disadvantages several times. The cloud has taken the world by a thunderstorm and will no doubt pioneer inventions in the field of technology in the years to come.

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