What is Cloud computing?

Cloud computing evolved in the business world as a cost effective means of delivering processing power,  infrastructure, application software, data access, and storage services to companies, relieving  them of the burden of having to own it for themselves. these services can now be rented on an as needed basis

So far so good, but we’re now increasingly hearing the term in relation to homw computing, especially recently from Apple, but what does it really mean? And is it going to revolutionise our lives?

Well to ascertain extend its has done so already. Email, Facebook, Google, and Twitter are all cloud computing applications located on the net

Basically the ‘cloud’ is the Internet, and the term is fitting – it’s large, out there somewhere, and fuzzy at the edges. The next step for cloud computing is about putting more of your material out there and less on your laptop

The Amazon cloud computing system already offers  free storage on its servers of up to 5 gigabytes. You can upload your  music, movies, photos and other media to Amazon’s Cloud Computing Drive to use whenever you want

Better still, with cloud computing you can synchronize your data with any device you happen to own. In other words, you can access the content of your Cloud Computing Drive” no matter where you are, and no matter what device you happen to have on hand

In theory the possibilities for the home computer user to use cloud computing are endless. Not only entertainment media can be stored on cloud computing system. Documents, pictures and other digital materials can be uploaded and shared among friends and family members.

Using cloud computing, families can plan their events in a private, centralized location that any member can view as needed. Cloud computing systems such as Picasa systems are also a great place to store memories on a remote server that is not likely to be subject to a devastating data loss because of a crash. Amazon’s cloud computing system has too much to lose to be careless about back up. Never fear. If 5 gigs, enough to store a whopping 1000 songs, isn’t enough, Amazon will sell you all the space you could possibly use. In fact, you will automatically be upgraded to 20 gigs of storage in the cloud for a full year if you buy an album through their music store

Not to be outdone, Apple have introduced iCloud, also with 5 gigabytes of storage free. It comes with all new Apple devices and stores your music, photos, documents, and more and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices. Apple claim that it is ‘Automatic, effortless, and seamless — it just works’

It all seems too good to be true. What could possibly go wrong?

As usual the problems start when things are taken to extremes. Remember that for cloud computing to work you MUST have an Internet connection – no connection, no cloud. Even if you do have a connection is it fast enough for, say, movies to be streamed to your device?

Many people argue that, as things stand, our broadband connections and 3G aren’t sufficiently fast, robust, reliable, affordable or widespread for us to rely extensively on data stored in the cloud — particularly when we are on the move. Many hotels don’t have free WiFi, mobile data is terrifyingly expensive outside your home country, uploads from home broadband connections are ultra slow, 
and 3G is largely useless; these 
are just some of the reasons why the concept is doubted by some

Yet pushing the cloud to the extreme is currently being touted, and welcomed all round with oohs and aahs by two of the world’s largest technology companies — Google and Samsung. Acer have also joined in. The beautifully designed £400 Samsung Chromebook, like the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, has no brain. It only works — as in, has any usable function at all — if there’s WiFi. It doesn’t even take wired connection (all there is in most hotels) or a 3G SIM card. Would you want to rely on that?

There can’t be many of you who would welcome opening your laptop to find it has no data at all on it, because it’s all on a cloud server and unavailable to you because you’re not online!

Happily, the middle ground is likely to prevail, with broadband wireless connections increasing in speed and reliability and technology companies finding an increasing number of sensible personal computing applications on the cloud

NMTBP looks forward to it!


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