Lost in the Cloud

If you’ve been paying attention to technology lately, the buzzword in the industry is definitely the “cloud.” Cloud computing, for people confused yet interested, it is not some sort of magic technological breakthrough that harnesses the raw power of water droplets and ice crystals to load YouTube videos (although that would be pretty cool. Put more simply, the cloud is a method of distributing services (like email, music, videos, documents and even video games) to end-users (you) without having to run a program or save the data on a local (your) computer; even simpler would be to say that it’s a way of computing entirely on-line.

Internet users may be new to the term, but it’s almost impossible to spend time on-line without doing something considered “in the cloud.” Web-based email or streaming music and video are all cloud-based services, and they have been around for years. Given that, it might be difficult to see what all the fuss is about. Major companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft are all scrambling to purchase smaller companies specialising in cloud computing, and they are building large data centres left and right to provide their cloud services. So why is there a cloud rush you ask?

The big name companies succeeded where others failed by providing a breakthrough computing service at exactly the moment it was becoming big. Amazon made online ordering safe and commonplace. Google is now a commonly used verb to describe Internet searches. Microsoft’s operating systems compete with themselves for market share (with 10, 8.1, 7 and Vista ahead of Mac OS and Linux). The common assumption is that cloud computing is the next big thing and will steer the path of technology for decades.

With the popularity of ultra-portable, power-lacking devices like smartphones and netbooks, more and more people are relying on the Internet for the majority of their computing needs. By streaming music and video, you don’t have to waste hard drive space saving files. By reading and composing documents and email messages online, you don’t need traditional programs like Word or Outlook. The brilliant thing about the cloud is that content is essentially accessible from any device anywhere with an Internet connection. You can start typing a paper on your desktop at breakfast, work on it at lunch on your laptop and do a final revision before sending it off from your cell phone.

Google’s work on Android system on Phones and tablets is betting on the future of the cloud. All of the storage and computing is handled by their data centers, so a Laptop/tablet can be made light and portable with cheaper hardware. It seems as if Google is in an excellent position to profit heavily from advertising revenue if they can migrate more users into their cloud-based services.

But don’t think we’re letting all the hype cloud our judgment (pun intended). Bandwidth limitations and access to broadband Internet are still limiting what service providers can offer over the Internet. Many people will be quick to adapt to all the conveniences of the cloud, but the days of the good ol’ PC aren’t dead yet. There are also some serious privacy concerns involved with storing and transmitting potentially sensitive information over the Internet, but that’s another story altogether.

So if you’re PC crashes or network troubles have you grounded, you can always call Chips Computers. We’re here to help make sense of all the techno-gibberish and leave you with the most pleasant computing experience possible.

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