Cloud computing has taken the IT world by storm, quickly making its way up the list of technology buzz words – but what does the term really mean? And how will cloud computing change the way you manage and organize your digital information in the future?
Cloud computing is essentially the management and provision of applications, information and data as a service. These services are provided over the internet, often on a consumption-based model.
Cloud computing provides a convenient way of accessing computing services, independent of the hardware you use or your physical location. It relieves the need to store information on your PC, mobile device or gadget with the assumption that the information can be quickly and easily accessed via the net. Cloud computing also negates the need to download or install dedicated software on your own computer, freeing up on board memory and reducing energy costs.You are probably already using cloud computing services without realizing it. Google is one of the most prominent companies offering software as a free online service to billions of users across the world. The internet giant hosts a set of online productivity tools and applications in the cloud such as email, word processing, calendars, photo sharing, and website creation tools.
Microsoft has also spent big bucks on cloud computing. In November 2009 the firm announced the availability of the Windows Azure platform – a consumption-based cloud computing service that provides web tools for businesses. Microsoft’s Azure platform will bring the company closer to its “three screens and a cloud” vision.
On February 8, cloud computing company Disc Cloud announced it was launching Flurry, the world’s first-ever Mac OS X desktop cloud infrastructure. Flurry facilitates the instant delivery of content and applications to Mac users via the internet; it enables them to listen to their entire iTunes Library or run iWork (Apple’s word processing suite) from the cloud.
In January 2010 ABI Research estimated that more than 240 million business customers will be using cloud computing services on mobile devices by 2015.
The trend points to PCs becoming a gateway into the cloud – removing the need for onboard storage and freeing consumers to leap from one device to another depending on their needs.
Consumers will no longer have to download and install memory-hogging applications and software on their device and will instead be able to access everything they need via a powerful internet browser. With this model, the majority of computing software will be rented on an as-needed basis instead of being bought as an expensive one-off purchase.