Monday, July 9, 2012

Cloud Computing: Not as spacey as you think!

Don’t be afraid to try cloud computing, it even sounds soft and cozy! Remember: if you can use the Internet you can use the cloud!

Have you ever been stuck on a public computer with nowhere to save your work? Left the office and forgotten a USB on your desk? Remembered your lunch for school but forgotten your assignment at the breakfast table? Me too. I have lost work before – haven’t we all? And I don’t just mean online, I also mean within our computers, the programs, a faulty USB… and there is that tragic moment when it hits you – all your work, all that effort, is gone and you cannot possibly get it back (although you may waste a lot of time trying). However, good news is at your door: welcome to the world of cloud computing.

What exactly is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is Internet-based computing. The idea behind cloud computing is that saved software, documents, photos and information can be provided to users over the Internet, rather than running locally on a computer or a local network server. That means multiple access points so that when your computer crashes you can hop onto another and you haven’t lost your work. That means you can start a document at the office and have the most recently updated copy available to edit at home. That means you can get to school, say "oops", and print your assignment within seconds. That means less wasted time and that makes a whole lot of sense!

Interested? Ready to embrace your space on a cloud?

Here are a few commonly used platforms for cloud computing:

Gmail and Google Docs: Google Apps, which includes Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs, is one of the best known consumer cloud applications. Google Docs is tremendously popular with startups, businesses and individuals. It is also an excellent tool for collaborative work projects and a fast free way to access software such as Word and PowerPoint.

Box: When it comes to collaboration, document management and storage, Box is consistently one of most innovative players in the cloud computing space. The company started off as a more consumer-focused cloud storage company, but has pivoted quite successfully into a leading collaboration services offering that’s geared toward small businesses and larger corporations.

Dropbox: Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud and file storage solutions because it makes sharing files with other users or across computers dead simple. The service is focused on consumers, but many businesses use it, too. Dropbox has an API and is supported by a multitude of web and mobile applications.

OnLive: The cloud is about more than just documents and file storage — it can also be used to deliver video games. Startup OnLive has really pushed the envelope in terms of what we can expect from cloud gaming in the future. The idea of being able to play games from the cloud — no disc or download required — is something that is likely to catch on, big time, in the next few years.

iCloud: The iCloud provides access to your music, photos, calendars, contacts, documents, and more, from whatever devices you’re on. And it’s built into every new iOS device and every new Mac.

Sign me up! Here’s how...
Find the platform that best meets your needs (you can use more than one!) and visit their website to create an account. Some platforms such as Dropbox will encourage you to download software to multiple devices including computers, tablets, and smartphones. Once you've signed up you can start saving documents in the files and folders the platform provides.

Things to remember:
Firstly, due to the nature of clouds, security can be a concern. Just like with email, hackers can find ways to access the items in your cloud. Think about what you're saving and password security. Secondly, you must have access to the Internet to save items.

Want more information?

For more information on cloud computing visit Cloud Computing. In particular, review the article “Cloud Computing: The Layperson’s Guide to Distributed Networks” by Christina Warren.

The Stratford Public Library also offers resources on cloud computing. Visit our catalogue on BiblioCommons! Click here for a direct link to our titles on this topic!

The SPL also subscribes to database that offer information on this subject such as Computer Database. Simply search for “cloud computing” in the database or visit us at the reference desk and we’ll help you get started!

1 comment:

  1. hi..Im student from Informatics engineering, this article is very informative, thanks for sharing :)