Cloud Computing is a word that is bandied about everywhere. We hear these terms everywhere now and when the software giants like Google, Adobe and Microsoft are tooting it, then it goes without saying that you should, as a consumer know about it. Here is a Q&A.
What does ‘Cloud Computing’ mean?
It is accessing your applications over the internet or the “cloud”. It is linked to another buzzword, SaaS or Software-As-A-Service, that companies like Salesforce.com are behind. A software is provided as a service to you and you pay for it on a subscription basis rather than a one time fee. The software service provider hosts the software and (also your data) on the “cloud”.
So what’s new about that?
There isn’t anything new about since we stepped into the era of web-based applications. Only that most of the commonly used productivity applications which were primarily desktop based are moving to the “cloud”. And of course, it has become famous since Google, etc are claiming its a new era of computing.
What does it mean to general consumers and businesses?
You can access your commonly used productivity applications like Word, Excel, Powerpoint on the web instead of using your desktop. So what’s alluring for the general consumer and businesses is that you can do away with paying for huge one-time licensing or infrastructure costs and just pay as you go. You can also access your applications from anywhere as long as you are on the “cloud” or the “internet”.
So what’s not to like?
There’s the issue of information security, but all these providers are trying their hardest to ensure your data is safe and secure on the cloud. There is also the issue of privacy. Your private data is on someone else’s servers. There is also the fact that you cannot access your data if the hosted service is down or your internet connection is down is another downside for enterprises.
Does Privacy matter anymore?
With the advent of cloud computing and ubiqitous Web 2.0 social networking applications, it does appear that no one really cares about privacy anymore. Imagine a situation when all your cherished memories on Flickr goes away when they close down their shop, or you are not able to access your important proposals in Google Docs because their service is down? Can you visualize storing your bank ATM PIN #s on the “cloud”? One must accept that not all mission-critical applications can be on the web.