Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Computing in the Clouds

I was watching an old episode of Star Trek on late night Cable…another bout of insomnia.  This particular episode was about advanced aliens who lived in the clouds.  Have you seen this episode?  I started to think about clouds and then cloud computing, and thought maybe I should write a basic blog about cloud computing.

So you’ve probably heard the term cloud computing, and thought cool, this cloud computing must be superior to regular computing.  Well cloud computing is really just a cool name for computer sharing.

Think of a data center with thousands of servers available.  Cloud computing allows businesses to purchase a portion of that computing power from the data center to run their applications over the Internet.

An example of a cloud application would be Google docs.  You can get a Google account and have access to Google docs (among others).  With Google docs you can create presentations, spreadsheets, and text documents without downloading and installing any software on your personal computer…very cool.  So as an end user, cloud computing means that if you have an Internet connection, and a web browser, you can have access to applications without the hassle of downloading and installing software.  Google docs is free, but some applications may require a fee. 

Cloud computing, big deal, so I don’t need to install software.  I guess you’ve never had a hard drive crash, and had to re-load all your applications.  The biggest pain I guess isn’t loading the applications, but finding the disks and locating the software key.  What about that application you wish you had access to on any computer you touch?  Cloud computing fits the bill, any computer with an Internet connection will get you to your cloud application (unless the application is blocked in the firewall).  Some cloud applications allow for collaboration with others.  You can share your Google docs with your business partners.

Some cloud applications may be dangerous because you may be putting confidential information in the cloud.  Consider a financial cloud application that you use to track personal finances.  A cloud data breach will compromise your personal information.  Keep in mind what information you are putting in the cloud, and make sure that whatever you do, leave your personal information on your personal computer.

Overall cloud computing is a great idea, but it does have some disadvantages.  If there is a data breach, any information in the cloud will be compromised.  Working in the cloud takes longer, and quite often the cloud application features are limited in scope.  A locally installed word processor will have many more features than a cloud word processor. You need to have access to the Internet to get to your application.  Lose your Internet connection, or the cloud site is down and you won’t be able to work until the problem is fixed.

Depending on your workload, and your computing style, you can easily leverage cloud applications to increase your efficiency.


  1. This is a very interesting topic. I’m working with a company called Stonebranch that recently launched Scribbos , a powerful secure business communications solution for sending all types of confidential information instantly to anyone, anywhere on the Internet... even from your iPhone. Great for sending confidential personal information, health records, financial data, contracts etc. Scribbos addresses many of the security issues you mention and is as easy to use as email.

  2. I was thinking about the security concerns of cloud computing and thought data encryption. Confidential data can be encrypted and decrypted in the cloud on the fly? I think that's part of what Scribbos is doing, and maybe creating secure tunneling to transport the data.


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