As a general term, many folks have heard of “Cloud Computing”, and surprisingly many of those same people have engaged in cloud computing. The term generally refers to using the Internet, or cloud, to access information, run programs, or share files, without having to have direct access to a specific computer. Anyone who stores email in popular programs like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or Hotmail has engaged in cloud computing, albeit a very small part of it. That email can be accessed from any computer in the world that has access to the Internet. Other popular sites like Flickr, and even YouTube, allow for sharing of photos and videos.
Anytime software is stored on a server and accessed at will the cloud comes into play, of course the “cloud” is nothing more than the Internet. Imagine if everyone who used Gmail had to purchase a disc to install their text editor, which would be a sizeable investment. Instead Internet based applications allow any user to access their data at will without having to install software on a specific computer. The advantages of using the cloud to run applications like email and photo storage are as numerous as they are varied.
Cloud computing is definitely cheaper than purchasing several copies of piece of software, but the convenience factor should also not be overlooked. Since users have the ability to access the same data from any machine, literally any type of work or play is possible from a variety of locations from the beach to the office. In particular, file sharing is also an integral part of the cloud. Users can now upload vacation photos to a web site where they can viewed by friends and family across the globe. The same can be said for company documents and address books. In addition, even complex tasks can be accomplished by using software or applications that allow several people to access them at the same time granting a more streamlined approach to everything from social networking to video conferencing.
All things considered, the infrastructure of Internet computing can be a touch on the complicated side, but the results are impressive to say the least. While cloud computing is not necessarily a new concept, the terminology is really what has improved. As developers, like Google, Yahoo!, and others continue to nurse and expand the variety of applications available from the Internet, cloud computing will only continue to grow in effectiveness and popularity.