Cloud computing is defined as using web based applications and storing the data at a hosted site. Thus, the user doesn’t have to have any expertise in the applications that are running on their pc. They simply connect to the internet and have access to their files and applications.
Why use the term cloud? If you haven’t seen a network diagram, typically a picture of a cloud is used to depict the Internet.
There are actually 3 different types of Cloud services, I’ll list them out for now, maybe another time I’ll come back and go into detail on these services:
And, these can be provided from either a public or private network. A public cloud, sells its services to anyone on the Internet. An example of a public cloud is Google Apps and Amazon Web Services. Typically, public cloud services are sold as an “on demand” service. Pay by the minute and pay by the volume of storage. So, a private cloud is where services are provided from within the organizations data center and are only available to employees of that organization. IT departments must now focus on state of the art technology in the data center. Cloud computing puts all the onus on having a smooth and efficient data center.
So, what kind of PC do you need to be a Cloud user? The answer, at a minimum a very lightweight computer. As a user, all you really need your computer to do is connect you to the Internet. Almost all the processing and computer resources you use are at the providers’ site. Enter the Netbook, lightweight, low cost laptop. Did we take a step back, remember when all computing was on mid to large mainframe systems and you used a dumb terminal to connect to your resources. Well, isn’t that where cloud computing is going?
What options do you have with the Netbook. The Netbook comes with either windows XP or Linux. FYI, it doesn’t come with Vista because Vista uses too much memory and the Netbooks typically come with 1 GB ram. Some Netbooks are starting to come with more memory, although I think this deviates from the intent of the Netbook (remember, dumb terminal). Technically, any application that runs under Windows or Linux will work on this PC, however with limited resources, performance will suffer. One note on storage, you can also use your local storage as a backup.
There are also simplified operating systems currently being developed where the primary goal is to give you a desktop browser environment that will connect you to the Internet and give you access to your “cloud” applications. One example is Google Chrome OS. It’s a lightweight OS with primary focus on the browser. Remember, Chrome, googles’ web browser? Well, it’s the central piece of their operating system. And, yes, it’s initially designed to run on a netbook. So, what’s Microsoft doing? Well they are working on Gazelle, this could be the rival to Chrome.
So, what are the advantages of cloud computing for a typical user:
Low cost – lightweight systems are all you need
Good performance – since the provider is responsible for this.
User doesn’t have to be a computer expert
Increased data reliability
Device independence- you can use any system that can connect to the internet.
And, what are the disadvantages?
Requires an Internet connection- Internet connection goes down, no apps for.
Need a high speed Internet connection – although most people are all ready there.
Cloud apps need work – although they are closing in, Google Presentation doesn’t have all the features as Microsoft Powerpoint.
Same question I asked before, are we stepping back into the world of super data centers and dumb terminals?