Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cloud Computing and Google Apps

When you work on the Internet, part of your job is to keep yourself up-to-date about what is going on in the field of computing. You invariably catch concepts on the periphery of your attention, and before long, they get all of your attention, and you spend some time learning about them. Cloud computing is one of those things that has elbowed its way onto my plate as something I need to know about. The tipping point for me was reading about a round B of financing for Hadoop start-up Cloudera on Cloud Computing Journal, and that led me to some research and now I know a little bit about what is relevant to me about cloud computing.

Users don't need to know how cloud computing works. We only need to know what it does for us. This is seems to be the approach to explaining it that the industry itself is taking, and that is all well and good to me. I am a writer by trade, and I chose that path because I am not a very technical person.



The simplest solution is the best one says Occam's Razor. If someone asked you what an iPod was it would be best to just show them yours. Cloud computing is similar. If you have ever used Google Apps, like Google Maps or Google Docs, you are using cloud computing. PayPal, Facebook, Salesforce, and Amazon Web Services are also examples of cloud computing. Cloud computing allows access to "software as a service" that exists on the Internet, rather than being unique to your computer. If you need something other than your computer or mobile computing device to access an application, it is not using cloud computing.

A big buzzword in the field of cloud computing is "scalability." This means that computing resources exist in the cloud that can meet your needs as they scale up or down and you pay for them accordingly. You won't find yourself waiting around for financing to buy additional servers when you need the space, and if things slow down, you won't be stuck with hardware you aren't using. So cloud computing is relevant to you if you need to know how to get to the dentist across town or if you need to process unlimited quantities of information quickly and efficiently.

So that's a little bit about cloud computing. I am still thinking about it, but it is very elegant in its efficiency, and rather inclusive in that it provides pay-as-you-go scalability that levels the playing field to some degree in terms of access to resources. This is true for research as well as for commercial applications. Personally, the Content Dude has always had his feet on the ground and his head in the clouds, so cloud computing just kind of feels right if you know what I mean.

References:

Cloud Computing Journal
Wikipedia
Salesforce
Google Apps Software as a Service

Horizon Report

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