Cloud computing: nebulous or not?

The ever-changing face of technology is morphing yet again and there’s another buzz phrase for everyone to begin integrating into their tech vernacular: cloud computing.

  • Thursday, September 18, 2008 2:47pm
  • Opinion

The ever-changing face of technology is morphing yet again and there’s another buzz phrase for everyone to begin integrating into their tech vernacular: cloud computing.

Many technology companies have produced and implemented systems, which have effectively opened up access to dedicated, web-based services and resources.

The goal is to increase overall efficiency and productivity for businesses by scaling back, if not eliminating all together, the need for in-house IT staff in favor of maintained, outside servers and a commitment to fee-based managed resources.

Depending on the nature of the business and its specific needs, cloud-computing resources have the potential to simplify a number of processes, otherwise associated with in-house services and locally-installed software applications.

Issues such as hiring and training IT personnel, software licensing, version upgrades, shared access, security, conflicts with other installed programs, accurate and consistent data back-up and retrieval protocols become non-starters.

Applications are no longer designated to an individual workstation based on preset protocols from the local server. Instead, through SaaS (Software as a Service) functionality, permissions and security levels are established allowing specified access from virtually anywhere — wherever there is access to an active internet connection.

Most of you are probably already using some type of cloud computing platform or SaaS application. How many of you bank online? Pay your credit card online? Manage your investment accounts. Have a shipping account with UPS or the USPS?

These are all cloud-computing platforms. They all provide the ability to accomplish one or more specified tasks based on web-based access to the information required to accomplish said tasks. Access is granted based on user-specific login parameters and security is provided by the platform.

Businesses and individuals alike can, and will continue to, benefit from the versatility and flexibility of connecting with online data sources and applications for virtually everything they need. And as more and more companies and individuals begin to gravitate toward web-based applications, bandwidth, reliability and security issues will need to be constantly addressed.

So, while cloud-computing is in its virtual infancy and, for now, is geared primarily toward businesses, there are currently some great offerings for the individual user, as well. Google Apps is a perfect example of a free, multi-use personal and business cloud-computing platform. Check it out at www.google.com/a

For online data back-up and storage solutions, there’s www.mozy.com and www.carbonite.com Both offer free and pay-for options.

For all intents and purposes, we have only just entered a time when computing power is able to handle the demands of such a global emphasis and cloud computing is just beginning to absorb the shift from the “old way.”

Our world is once again getting smaller and we are all moving closer together as we share the one thing available to us all – The Cloud.

Wayne Nelson and Jeremy Self own and operate Wired Northwest, LLC in Redmond. Submit your questions to: techtalk@wired-nw.com. Contact Wired Northwest, LLC at www.wired-nw.com or call (206) 788-7975 or (206) 788-7898.


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