Thursday, September 11, 2008 offa' my cloud!

Computing may be heading for the clouds. The latest buzz word in tech circles is "cloud computing". In fact you may already be doing some cloud computing without even knowing it. Do you use G-mail, Blogger, Facebook, or Google Aps? If so, you are cloud computing. In short, cloud computing is the use of software directly on the web, without anything other than a browser and operating system needed on your local machine. Ultimately, we could end up with computers in our homes that have nothing on them other than lots of RAM and communication software to connect to the web. In our library we used to call these machines "dumb terminals." Even your data would be stored remotely. Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing:

1. Software is cheaper because there is no CD or DVD to produce. Users will subscribe to software on line and log-in for access.
2. Pirating is reduced because there is no CD or DVD to be copied.
3. Viruses disappear because there is little software on the home computer to become infected.
4. The servers that house your data would be backed up by the storage site, so you wouldn't have to worry about it.
5. Users would have access to all their software anywhere in the world on a computer with internet access, making for the ultimate in portability.
6. Data and software would be stored on highly secured servers, making hacking for personal information much more difficult.
7. Home computers would be cheaper and simpler because they would require less internal hardware to run software locally.

1. No more sharing software between friends
2. If your internet connection is lost, you have absolutely no access to software or data.
3. Users are at the mercy of the software companies to buy updates to software, since the companies would be able to shut off old versions and require upgrades. There'd be no more holding on to ten-year-old software that still works fine.
4. Users would be required to trust companies with their personal data, assuming it would not be sold, lost or given to investigators. This type of computing is not for the paranoid.
5. Users would be completely subject to all the terms of service of the software companies. How many users follow all the fine print on the installation click-through? I know I don't.

It's yet to be seen if cloud computing will bring sunshine or storms.

Stephen Bertrand
Assistant Director


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting breakdown thanks. We're in a consortium and one of our partners is going 'cloud'. It would never work for us because of our bandwith and speed issues but they have good connections. It will be interesting to see how it goes and whether our IT departments would consider going that way.

September 18, 2008 7:19 PM  

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