Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cloud computing isn’t for the birds

In my first entry here, I mentioned cloud computing as a way to always have your music on you, as long as you have a device capable of accessing the internet. Cloud computing isn’t just for music, it’s for anything that can be done with computers but requires less space on hard drives and less physical work for it to run. It’s becoming so popular that businesses are starting to use it (If you ever worked for a non-technical based company like me you know that companies are SLOW to adopt new technologies).

So what is cloud computing and how does it work?

Cloud computing is using software and applications stored on the host’s servers, or ‘the cloud’, instead of having those programs stored on an end user’s hard drive. The end user uses an interface that accesses the host’s servers, and will have to access those servers every time he wants to use the program.

The most recent- and extreme- example of cloud computing is the debut of Google’s Chromebook. This device looks like a laptop, but according to the company, “will have no programs and no desktop, require no installations and rely completely on the Web for all of its functions.” Everything that will be done on the Chromebook will be done through Google’s servers.

There isn’t a need to buy a new device to cloud compute. Web-based email services such as Hotmail are considered cloud computing- emails aren’t stored on a computer’s hard drive, but on the company’s servers.  Another example is a service called Dropbox. This service is used by companies to save storage space, and allows employees to share and edit documents with each other. Instead of having different versions of the same document floating around on a company’s hard drive, the document is uploaded once, and members of the company can view and edit that document. Dropbox even has a feature where you can see the document’s editing history, so its possible to see just who is editing what.

There has to be an element of trust between the end user and the company if information and hard work is going to be uploaded to someone else’s server and not on one’s own computer. As someone who makes backups of backups, I am not at the point where I feel I can have one copy of my work, and house it on another server. For example, for this blog, I first write it down in my blog-notebook, or “blogbook.” Then I type it and save it in my text editor, and then I upload it to Blogger. In the back of my head, I know it isn’t in Google’s best interest to lose my stuff, but I’m glad I have several copies, even if the written copy is only decipherable by me, and that’s if I’m lucky.

As the amount of the world’s information grows, it becomes more and more expensive for one person or business to store all of it, so cloud computing’s presence is only going to grow. Companies that offer cloud computing services are going to work incredibly hard to earn the public’s trust so the risk of data loss should be at a minimal. I would suggest becoming more familiar with what cloud computing offers, but keep an eye on your work and the company’s reputation.


Strickland, J. (n.d.). How Cloud Computing Works. Retrieved May 13, 2011, from How Stuff Works:

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