Cloud Computing 101

Good morning from Reno, NV!

Cloud computing is a very elusive and conspicuous term that is thrown around the IT world to confound the end user and make companies sound like they are doing something incredibly technical. However, cloud computing is actually a very basic service . According to CDW, cloud computing is “one of the most strategic technologies for 2011 and beyond.” Be prepared!

The basic principle of cloud computing is that a 3rd party computer vendor hosts IT services for you or your company at an offsite location. This can be anything from hosting an online version of QuickBooks accounting software that you access via the web, to running virtualized servers . One of the greatest benefits of cloud computing is that there is incredible scalability and flexibility that is not normally available through “traditional” IT departments. Companies like Amazon.com, have made a very lucrative business out of contracting out server space to companies for web hosting. By utilizing cloud computing services, customers can pay only for what they need, so if it is the peak of shopping season, they can pay for 4-5 servers, however, once the season dies down they may revert back to 1 or 2.

One of the most understood and utilized examples of cloud computing is hosted email accounts, such as Hotmail and Gmail. Although many users don’t think twice about logging into their accounts, you are actually logging into servers that Microsoft and Google (respectively) run and maintain. The fact that your emails are available from ANYWHERE in the world is what makes the power of the cloud so awesome. The user doesn’t notice anything different depending if they log in from Nevada or New York, and all of their information is available. This is incredibly powerful, especially when your email is available at your fingertips from anywhere on the globe.

The power of cloud computing is just being tapped into, with many software companies offering fully online versions of their product. One which we use at work, called OrgSync, is an online club management software package. We can login and manage the clubs and organizations from any computer with internet, which gives us a great deal of power and flexibility.

My favorite cloud based application is Dropbox, which allows me to sync files between multiple desktop computers, my DroidX, and my laptops. It essentially gives me a 2 gigabyte (Gb) folder out “in the cloud” where I can store any types of files and access them from anywhere. The folder is constantly synced, so anytime I add or remove files, all devices that sync to my Dropbox are updated. I rarely use a jump drive anymore because I can throw what I need into my Dropbox and off I go. I strongly encourage everyone to sign up for Dropbox, and you can use my referral to get additional storage space for free!

Cloud computing is rapidly becoming commonplace and it will be very interesting to see some of the cool features and ideas that are created because of it.

How do you envision using cloud computing?

Image credit.

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5 Comments

  1. Great post Russell! Like you, I am a huge proponent of cloud computing. I think it is the most logical means to manage your IT and looks to be the way of the future.

    -Corey Ryan
    corey.d.ryan@gmail.com
    coreydryan.wordpress.com

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