Dwight Watt - Newspaper Article #47 3/3/2010

Question: What is Cloud Computing?


Cloud computing is the ability to store information and run applications across the Internet on machines you rent space from.

The cloud is the Internet. When the Internet is shown in drawings it is shown as a cloud, as in stuff goes on in there that the users and businesses do not control. This is a recognized term in the computer industry.

With cloud computing instead of a business having to buy and maintain servers to keep their data and applications on, they rent space from an organization that maintains large numbers and size of servers that are accessible from the Internet.

Now your data and applications are available anywhere in the world and as your organization grows you just rent more space or if you need less space you rent less. You no longer have to purchase the servers and also maintain them such as backups.

A number of organizations rent space for cloud computing with two prominent ones being Amazon and Microsoft. Amazon calls their cloud computing Elastic Compute Cloud or e2c. You can store both applications and data on it. Microsoft calls their product Azure which just keeps data. I attended a seminar on Azure in late February.

The cloud computing providers claim to maintain backups for you and also to have many servers with your data replicated in several places to stop down time. This is also advertised as secure, but we will have to see as the use grows of how secure it is. There is a cost for using the machines and also for data storage and transfers.

For several years now there have been predictions this is the future of computing. It has not caught on large yet but lots of work is being done on it currently. We will need to wait to see if it is another fad in computing or a major shift like Windows and the Internet were. For the time being it is being pushed as a business product and not for consumers to move storage to.