Article Contributed by Kay Ackerman
Have you noticed you don’t hear a formerly common question much anymore? “Exactly, what is cloud computing, anyway?” It wasn’t too long ago when, if you told people you use the cloud to produce and store your work, you received perplexed looks from even some otherwise tech-savvy gurus.
As many experienced observers believe, cloud computing is growing up. The excitement surrounding the cloud, including how it would save users money, sounded too good to be true–total hype. However, the skeptics, who also were concerned about security issues (at a minimum), aren’t saying too much anymore. Users realize that it’s not the magic bullet some proponents claimed it would be, but it works.
The cloud has survived its formative phase. It’s become a reliable tool.
Detractors still maintain that it comes with potential security concerns and user savings, which are challenging to measure. However, more and more entrepreneurs and businesses are trusting the cloud with their documents and data storage.
The origins of the term “cloud” remain a bit cloudy (pun intended). Most believe it comes from the cloud-like drawings displaying the interrelationship between a network and its various components. Others maintain that the word “cloud” is simply a metaphor for the Internet, upon which the remote servers storing documents and data depend. Cloud symbols have been used to describe the Internet for over two decades.
Although most consider cloud computing a cutting edge use of technology, the concept goes back to the days of large-scale mainframes in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Who knew? Forward thinkers, who could also count money, realized that the cost of then-sophisticated mainframes was prohibitive for all but the largest corporations and universities. Some developed methods to sell “time” on mainframes to others to increase their return on investment (ROI).
Much like humans, cloud computing went through numerous growing pains. While it’s still not in the grizzled veteran status, the cloud is maturing. Its abilities to deliver numerous benefits consistently improve. The characteristics of cloud computing are expanding as is its reliability and acceptance.
- Cloud agility. Allows users to change, upgrade and expand their technology quickly and as needed.
- Accessibility to varied software. As new interface software and applications appear, the cloud enhances human and computer interaction.
- Cost savings, still challenged by skeptics, divert capital expenditures to recurring operations expenses. Instead of massive investment dollars, individuals and organizations enjoy budget-manageable expenses.
- User freedom and independence. Users can access the cloud from a browser, regardless of where they are or what devices, including smartphones, they are using.
- Sharing and migration. Cloud technology permits sharing of servers and storage. Apps can quickly and simply migrate from one server to another.
- Reliability. Once a primary cloud concern, much like secure backup systems with multi-level redundancy, reliability continues to improve. Redundant servers, usually at multiple locations and with efficient disaster recovery programs, make the cloud safer for users.
- Security. While not perfect–do you know of any security system in any industry that is?–cloud security continues to improve, consistently better protecting sensitive data from hackers.
- No deferred maintenance. The more sophisticated and complex your operation, the more important and costly its maintenance requirement to keep systems up and active. Cloud computing removes most of that daunting responsibility–and cost.
The cloud, while not a one-size-fits-all tech solution for every individual or business, is maturing quite nicely, thank you. If its popularity, efficiency and security continue to increase, the cloud could become the standard for personal and business computing. Stay tuned.
About the Author
Kay Ackerman is a self-proclaimed tech geek and freelance writer, focusing on business technology, innovative marketing strategies, and small business. She contributes to www.technected.com and you can also find her on Twitter.