Cloud computing - for who?

Tech Talk with Devaka

Cloud computing lets you access all your applications and documents from anywhere in the world, freeing you from the confines of the desktop and facilitating wholesale group collaboration. But cloud computing isn’t for everyone; there are pros and cons to this type of web-based computing.

Cloud computing represents a major change in how we store information and run applications. Instead of hosting applications and data on an individual desktop computer, everything is hosted in the “cloud” – a collection of computers and servers accessed via the Internet.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of cloud computing and see who should really be using it.

The pros

  • Lower computer costs. You don’t need a high-powered and high-priced computer to run cloud computing’s web-based applications. Since applications run in the cloud, not on the desktop PC, your desktop PC doesn’t need the processing power or hard disk space demanded by traditional desktop software.
  • Improved performance. With fewer bloated programs hogging your computer’s memory, you’ll see better performance from your PC.
  • Unlimited storage capacity. Cloud computing offers virtually limitless storage. Your computer’s current 200 gigabyte hard drive is peanuts compared to the hundreds of petabytes (a million gigabytes) available in the cloud. Whatever you need to store, you can!
  • Device independence. Finally, here’s the ultimate cloud computing advantage: You’re no longer tied to a single computer or network. Change computers, and your existing applications and documents follow you through the cloud. Move to a portable device, and your apps and docs are still available. There’s no need to buy a special version of a program for a particular device, or to save your document in a device-specific format.

The cons

  • Requires a constant Internet connection. Cloud computing is impossible if you can’t connect to the Internet. Since you use the Internet to connect to both your applications and documents, if you don’t have an Internet connection you can’t access anything, even your own documents.
  • Doesn’t work well with low-speed connections. A low-speed Internet connection, such as a dial-up service, makes cloud computing painful at best and often impossible. Web-based applications require a lot of bandwidth to download, as do large documents.
  • Stored data might not be secure. With cloud computing, all your data is stored on the cloud. How secure is the cloud? Can unauthorized users gain access to your confidential data? Cloud computing companies say that data is secure, but it’s too early in the game to be completely sure of that. Only time will tell if your data is secure in the cloud.

So who is to gain from the cloud?

First that comes to mind are managers or collaborators. If you often collaborate with other people on group projects, you’re an ideal candidate for cloud computing. The ability to share and edit documents in real time between multiple users is one of the primary benefits of web-based applications; it makes collaborating easy and even fun!

The cost conscious user too will find this very attractive. Cloud computing can save you money on both hardware and software. There’s no need to invest in large hard disks or super-fast CPUs; since everything is stored and run from the Web, you can cut costs by buying a PC with fewer features. And finally, for the demanding user who wants more and more.

Cloud is the ultimate way to get limitless storage space and high performance. If you need more hard disk space to store all your digital photos and MP3 files, you could either purchase a new external hard drive or the low cost cloud storage.

Now you know. Time to start using it!

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