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Cloud computing. What is it and how does it effect me?

A cloud on a bright blue sky

Cloud refers to an internet cloud rather then a real cloud one sees in the sky. The term cloud most likely originates from the cloud that software designers draw to represent the internet in their software designs.

The definition of cloud computing on wikipedia at the time of writing is this:

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).”

Which leads us straight into another technical phrase “software as a service”. Well, you’re most likely already benefiting from some form of software as a service. If you use gmail, hotmail, yahoo mail, etc… you definitely are! The idea behind cloud computing or software as a service is that you don’t run the applications you use yourself, but some one else, typically more specialised runs it for you (not only you) and you just use it. Just like gmail. Google runs the mail server (actually hundreds of servers) for all of us and it also provides us with a web-based application ( that we can use to manage our mail. Forgotten are those days when we had to download our email from our ISP within the month or we lose it. We had to backup our email on our pc ourselves. We had to migrate our email from one pc to the new one. With gmail, google does all of this for us. We don’t really have to install anything and still we can manage our email from every internet enabled piece of equipment that we have.

Similar to gmail, a host of new products are being created right now. These products aim to remove our dependency on our own hardware and software. We don’t have to install anything, we just connect to a website. For most of us it is yet inconcievable to have our applications, things that we use on a day to day basis, things we have full control of, stored on another company’s hardware but it seems to be the way forward.

To counter the percieved loss of control there are ample benefits for organisations to move to cloud computing:

  • Lower setup costs.
  • Lower cost of maintenence.
  • Less hassle.
  • No technical expertise required.
  • Higher mobility and access.
  • Less investment risk. name a few.

Many foward looking organisations will most surely consider cloud computing at one point or other and unless they are too concerned with privacy and dependency on a private company, they will opt for the “software as a service” concept when aqcuiring new IT Solutions. To counter exposure to loss of privacy and dependency on a third party that is beyond our legal reach local companies will feel safer acquiring such solutions from local companies which are well within legal and phsyical reach.


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