There is no doubt that modern computer technology changes at a ridiculous rate. A constant theme in computer equipment is developing faster, smaller, and more powerful devices. In the near future, however, a major overhaul in computer technology may completely change the way we use our machines and store information. That major change is cloud computing. The cloud computing concept is taking what began as a physical hard drive storing files, applications, etc. and replacing it with an online “cloud,” or server. Cloud computing is a growing system that may soon change everything about computer and application design.
The concept of cloud computing may have stemmed from the long standing system of a mainframe or server supporting information and running applications for a group of computers connected to it. This is very common within businesses, schools, and other institutions that may have to use shared information and programs. The server contains and distributes shared data through hard wired or wireless connections.
“To ensure appropriate levels of data security, reduce complexity and manage performance effectively, we need to recentralize the management of corporate data resources. For many businesses, the best way to do this is on the mainframe.” –Mark Lillycrop, Arcati, Ltd. (Jan, 2006)
Today’s Cloud Computing
Cloud computing systems already exist and are in common usage among computer users. Programs such as Apple’s MobileMe service give a paying user a certain amount of online storage space onto which they can upload and organize files such as photos, music, videos, and even applications. MobileMe also has a feature that allows a user to upload a backup of their entire computer which can be restored in the event of hard drive malfunction or other major issue. Services like AppleTV and GoogleTV are also examples of current cloud computing type services in that they consist of content that is held on an online server and transmitted to
household devices rather than stored on them. Future cloud computer technologies may hold all our saved files so that our computers retrieve information and run applications from an internet cloud instead of hard drives.
“Business applications are moving to the cloud. It’s not just a fad—the shift from traditional software models to the Internet has steadily gained momentum over the last 10 years. Looking ahead, the next decade of cloud computing promises new ways to collaborate everywhere, through mobile devices.” –salesforce.com
If a future shift to all cloud computing takes place (where all of our files and applications will exist on internet clouds instead of our own computers), the concern will be that bandwidth control will become even more important than it is now. Relying on an internet connection to do any task on our computers will require a constantly solid level of internet service. To maintain net neutrality, service providers will have to be sure that every user/company/institution has equal access to bandwidth share, which may prove to be difficult.
Personally, I am skeptical about total could computing and would be hesitant to store all of my information online. I am currently a user of MobileMe, but I don’t store anything of great importance on my “cloud.” Call me old fashioned, but the idea of having all of my files and applications which I have spent countless hours/dollars working on sitting online rather than on my own personal machine scares me. There are obvious security and reliability issues that would have to be well thought out before I buy into total cloud computing. Hopefully, if an industry wide shift is made, such problems will have already been completely worked out. Until then, I’ll keep saving to my hard drives.