All in the clouds

Mrs Mario
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I have to admit that I adore buzzwords. Adore them. Perhaps it’s because I hung around journalists that loved to create techy acronyms, or perhaps it’s a desperate need to be “in with the club”, but no matter what the reason I fell in love with cloud computing. Not because of what it can do, not at first (although that was obviously to come) but for the name.

I was enchanted by visions of me floating on white candyfloss looking down upon chartreuse fields while creating works of sublime genius. Fortunately this isn’t too far from the reality if you have wi-fi.  Essentially, cloud computing is using applications, storing data and managing information online. It takes away the need for you to install memory hogging applications on your netbook or PC while still being able to do whatever you need.

So, if you happen to be a keen photographer and have tons of photos stored on your machine then cloud computing solutions like Picasa or Flickr are a genius solution. You can upload all of your images to your personalised (and secure) site, backup your images to a disk, and delete them off your harddrive. Space is freed up but you still have access to your images at the click of a button.

Most of these services will ask that you pay a charge, though. You can’t just expect someone to host gigabytes of your information for free, but the cost will vary according to the level of storage (or service) you need and how much space you plan to use. For businesses it offers a scalable model of investment according to demand and, for the home user, it means you can pay whatever you can afford.

Many of the advantages are immediately obvious. If you’re desperate to own the latest Eee PC, for example, but don’t want to lug external storage devices around with you, then cloud computing means you can access your files wherever you have an internet connection. Just upload and save your files, access them whenever you want by dint of a password.

Google has spent a lot of time and money on developing free services that are extremely useful. You can merge calendars, use Google Docs as you would most other word processing programmes and handle email. They aren’t the only ones. Microsoft, Amazon and ASUS, among others, are also developing cool applications and services to take advantage of this growing trend.

ASUS offer a free year with ASUS WebStorage when you buy an Eee PC – a deal that is rather perfectly targeted – and you get 500GB of space to play around with. This is what it’s all about, creating solutions that work beautifully with existing technologies so they work together to give you more value.

Of course, there are the usual fears and some pitfalls. If you can’t get an internet connection then you’re dead in the water and security remains an ever present concern. However, as companies invest more time in developing cloud computing, you’re likely to view these issues the same way you would power outages, BSOD, hardware failure, or any one of the common technology complaints – frustrating and annoying but part of the package.

So, if you haven’t already explored some of the top cloud computing solutions then do a swift search now, or hang on to your hats and read my next article that lists some of the best cloud computing ideas and offerings for the home user.

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