The word ‘cloud’ is being used more and more when discussing computer software or services that we use on our tablets or smartphones. You may have heard of Apple’s iCloud where we keep our music and songs or the Google Cloud where we can store our documents and more, but what are they talking about when they mention the ‘cloud’ and how does it enhance our lives?
What is Cloud Computing?
In the purest form, the cloud is basically the internet itself and services that are offered over the World Wide Web. What these services do is offer consumers the opportunity to access data via an internet connection as opposed to having to have programmes or keep data on their own systems or devices. Very often, these services are provided by third party providers such as Amazon Web Services or Google Compute Engine where users pay for usage of either storage or bandwidth.
Who Needs It?
It is primarily large enterprises that require most cloud computing software solutions, especially businesses that need to store a huge volume of data or use a wide range of software services. Public demand for cloud computing is rapidly growing however as more and more people wish to to store large amounts of photos, videos, music and documents without using the storage that they have on their own personal computers.
What are the Benefits?
There are many benefits from using cloud-based software, firstly if we take the example of a large scale business, they can benefit financially from storing data in the cloud as opposed to having to pay for servers to hold the data. The cost for cloud computing is significantly lower than physically storing data. Productivity is also increased with cloud computing as the information can usually be instantly accessed rather than waiting for downloads or information to be sent.
For personal users of cloud-based software there are benefits when it comes to cost, very often consumers must pay more for devices that possess large amounts of storage. If using a cloud then the customer no longer requires as much space and can opt to buy cheaper models of computers, tablets and smartphones. Location independence is another great benefit for personal users, especially as 3G and 4G coverage is now so widespread, users can access all of their photos, music or documents at the touch of a button with a basic internet network connection.
What Does the Future Hold?
The future of cloud-based computing will look to transform almost all of the enterprise business applications to being cloud-based, from software suites to databases. Software services giant Infor are pushing hard to create a future of cloud-based software having recently acquired the largest cloud-based software provider Nexus GT. Infor’s CEO Charles Phillips has perfectly described cloud computing and its benefits in saying “ Putting everything in an in-memory database is a constraining architecture and a bad decision… Amazon gives us a massive supercomputer in the sky.” The future then, would appear to be that ‘supercomputers’ such as the one that Amazon provides will soon be storing all of our data for faster use and easier storage.