Cloud Computing

It seems to me…

Our industry is going through quite a wave of innovation and it’s being powered by a phenomenon which is referred to as the cloud.”  ~ Steve Ballmer.

Sometimes the future very closely resembles the past; remember Yogi Berra’s famous quote about Déjà vu all over again?  Computer applications initially were run on large central computers to which storage devices and terminals were attached.  Application execution eventually migrated to remote personal computers.  Now, storage and application execution is migrating back to large shared central resources.

A paradigm shift to cloud computing[i] will affect many different computer industry sub-categories such as software companies, internet service providers (ISPs), and hardware manufacturers.  Without explaining the differences, the cloud means something slightly different for personal and corporate users, it has become part of almost everything on our computers.

Cloud computing is a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet.  In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of on your personal computer’s hard drive[ii].

It[iii] is a phrase used to describe a variety of computing concepts that involve a large number of computers connected through a real-time communication network such as the Internet.  It encompasses any subscription-based or pay-per-use service that in real time over the Internet extends IT’s (Information Technology) existing capabilities.  Cloud computing is a type of computing that relies on sharing computing resources rather than having local servers or personal devices to handle applications.  And it could change the entire computer industry…

Cloud computing uses the Internet and a remote server to maintain data and various applications.  This technology provides users with much more efficient computing by centralizing storage, memory, processing, and bandwidth.

Instead of installing a suite of software for each computer, you’d only have to load one application.  That application would allow workers to log into a Web-based service that hosts all the programs the user would need for his or her job.  Remote machines owned by another company would run everything from e-mail to word processing to complex data analysis programs.

Cloud computing is not about personal local data storage.  When you store data on or run programs from your hard drive, that’s called local storage and computing.  Everything you need is physically close to you, which means accessing your data is fast, dependable, and easy for that one computer or others connected on a local network.  Working off a local computer and hard drive is how the computer industry functioned for decades (and some argue still superior to cloud computing).

For it to be considered “cloud computing”, you need to access your data or your programs over the Internet, or at the very least, have that data synchronized with other information over the Net.  In a big business, you may know all there is to know about what’s on the other side of the connection; as an individual user, you may never have any idea what kind of massive data-processing is happening on the other end.  The end result is the same: with an online connection, cloud computing can be done anywhere, anytime, and from any place.

Cloud computing uses networks of large groups of servers with specialized connections to spread data-processing chores across them.  This shared IT infrastructure contains large pools of systems that are linked together allowing users and businesses to use applications without installation and access their personal files at any computer with internet access.  This technology provides more efficient computing by centralizing data storage, processing, and bandwidth.

The rise of cloud computing is changing the nature of competition within the computer industry.  Technological developments have hitherto pushed computing power away from central hubs: first from mainframes to minicomputers, and then to PCs.  Now a combination of ever cheaper and more powerful processors, and ever faster and more ubiquitous networks, is pushing power back to the center in some respects, and even further away in others.  The cloud’s data centers are, in effect, oversized public mainframes.  At the same time, the PC is being pushed aside by a host of smaller, often wireless devices, such as netbooks (small laptops), tablets (touch-screen computers the size of books), and even smart-phones.

For obvious reasons, public cloud is bound to offer a multitude of benefits for its users, which can be sensed by its ubiquitous demand.  Some of the most important ones are:

  • Efficient storage and computing services.
  • Reduces costs since all virtual resources whether application, hardware, or data are supplied by the service provider.
  • Easy connectivity to servers and information sharing.
  • Appropriate use of resources as users pay only for the services actually required.
  • Highly reliable and redundant.
  • Widespread availability irrespective of geographical location.
  • Reduces buying, managing, and maintaining personal information technology resources.
  • Data and applications are available on any device, at any time, and from any place.

 The primary concern of some users is that the idea of storing personal information somewhere “up in the cloud” possibly reduces both data security and information control.  If data is stored on someone else’s resources, who “owns” that data?  Even with contract agreements as to fees, there still isn’t any control over telecommunications company’s costs.

The reign of the personal computer as the sole corporate access device is coming to a close and the personal cloud will replace the personal computer at the center of users’ digital lives.  Many call this era the post-PC era, but it isn’t really about being ‘after’ the PC, but rather about a new style of personal computing that frees individuals to use computing in fundamentally new ways to improve multiple aspects of their work and personal lives[iv].

Emerging cloud services will become the glue that connects the web of devices that users choose to access during the different aspects of their daily life.  This new style of personal computing frees individuals to use computing in fundamentally new ways to improve multiple aspects of their work and personal lives.  Users now have a scalable and nearly infinite set of resources available for whatever they need to do.

That’s what I think, what about you?


[i] These comments are a continuation of remarks in Rate of Innovation, WordPress, https://lewbornmann.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/rate-of-innovation/, 13 January 2014.

[ii] Griffith, Eric.  What Is Cloud Computing?, PCMagazine, 13 March 2013, http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2372163,00.asp.

[iv] Gartner Says the Personal Cloud Will Replace the Personal Computer as the Center of Users’ Digital Lives by 2014, Gartner, 12 March 2012, http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/1947315.

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About lewbornmann

Lewis J. Bornmann has his doctorate in Computer Science. He became a volunteer for the American Red Cross following his retirement from teaching Computer Science, Mathematics, and Information Systems, at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO. He previously was on the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Stanford University, and several other universities. Dr. Bornmann has provided emergency assistance in areas devastated by hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. He has responded to emergencies on local Disaster Action Teams (DAT), assisted with Services to Armed Forces (SAF), and taught Disaster Services classes and Health & Safety classes. He and his wife, Barb, are certified operators of the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV), a self-contained unit capable of providing satellite-based communications and technology-related assistance at disaster sites. He served on the governing board of a large international professional organization (ACM), was chair of a committee overseeing several hundred worldwide volunteer chapters, helped organize large international conferences, served on numerous technical committees, and presented technical papers at numerous symposiums and conferences. He has numerous Who’s Who citations for his technical and professional contributions and many years of management experience with major corporations including General Electric, Boeing, and as an independent contractor. He was a principal contributor on numerous large technology-related development projects, including having written the Systems Concepts for NASA’s largest supercomputing system at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. With over 40 years of experience in scientific and commercial computer systems management and development, he worked on a wide variety of computer-related systems from small single embedded microprocessor based applications to some of the largest distributed heterogeneous supercomputing systems ever planned.
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2 Responses to Cloud Computing

  1. berlioz1935 says:

    It is really like the Universe. The iWorld is expanding in all directions. Wouldn’t cloud computing make it easier for hackers? I’m a bit cynical here, but the NSA could provide the cloud at no charge and all the information they want would come to them.

  2. Cloud computing is at an early stage, with a motley crew of providers large and small delivering a slew of cloud-based services, from full-blown applications to storage services to spam filtering. Yes, utility-style infrastructure providers are part of the mix, but so are SaaS (software as a service) providers such as Salesforce.com. Today, for the most part, IT must plug into cloud-based services individually, but cloud computing aggregators and integrators are already emerging.

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