Is cloud computing safe?

Tech Talk with Devaka

A term that we are starting to hear more and more, cloud computing is by far the wow factor these days in the IT world. It first made a hit in the world when Microsoft spoke of a new operating system back in 2008 called “Midori” which would move applications and data from our desktops to the Internet. Since then, software giants such as Google, Salesforce have made huge strides in making cloud computing a reality and available to basic consumer.

The fact is, cloud computing is nothing new. The concept of it has been around for years but was primarily used by the business world. Then termed as “Software as a Service” or SaaS, corporations used such services to run their day to day operations “on-line” either hosted internally on a corporate network or externally on large servers. The best example that springs to mind is Salesforce.com.
So has the normal PC user ever experienced cloud computing? Yes you have. If you have a Gmail, Yahoo, MSN or any other email accounts that needs to be access on-line you have experienced the heart of cloud computing. However you are only tasting a small slice of the cake.

The ultimate goal of cloud computing will be to not only have your data on-line but also to provide with on-line computing power. It could very well turn out to be like the early 70’s when data was centralized kept in mainframes and data passed down to “dumb” terminals which were only to display. In the context of cloud computing, instead of mainframes the data will be located in acres of server farms which will serve up applications and host and protect our data. Google for instances is already prepared to take on this gigantic effort with server farms as large as 30 acres situated in Dalles, Oregon.

So in effect, cloud computing is not necessarily a technological shift but also a cultural shift. For us to entrust in a third party to protect our data and to let go of the control we had can be an issue. This is by far the biggest obstacle for the adoption of cloud computing. Another big concern that most people have is what will happen to the data during a server outage? It’s not similar to a hard disk failing which can affect only a few users when a server fails it could affect millions of people globally. We recently did see such an outage when Gmail went offline due to server outage, back in September of this year.

Only time will tell. In next weeks edition of Tech Talk I hope to write the positives of cloud computing as to why this could be the best way forward for IT and us.

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