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Califf: Cloud Computing Helps to Level Playing Field

If you’ve checked the business forecast lately, you may have heard predictions about a fluffy phenomenon heading your way. This misty marvel drifts into your browser with the potential to shield your business from the traditional, out-of-the-box software storm it may be caught in, and can drastically reduce cost, allow you to access information wherever an Internet connection can be found, and give your business the agility it needs to compete in today’s market.

What is this technological transformation tool you ask? The lighter-than-air computer craze known as cloud computing.

Over the past few years, cloud computing has accumulated major interest among businesses and Internet technology patrons alike, and was recently chosen by CNN as one of the top web trends to watch in 2010.

What does cloud computing actually mean?

According to InfoWorld, the "cloud" in cloud computing essentially serves as a representation for the Internet. The computing aspect of the puzzling phrase encompasses different areas which fall into a trio of service categories: Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Infrastructure as a Service.

Software as a Service, or SaaS, is an easily deployable software program offered over the Internet. The SaaS model allows a business or user to subscribe to cloud-based software and work within the software while on the cloud. SaaS eliminates the need to consistently update and maintain software, as well as provides rapid deployment and lower tech support costs.

Platform as a Service, or PaaS, is an extension of the SaaS model, and gives a business the means to customize multiple applications which drive a business. Platform as a Service offers real-time collaboration, easy deployment, and customizable user-interfaces.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Infrastructure as a Service model of cloud computing, or IaaS for short. Pushing software applications aside, IaaS service providers give businesses access to data centers, computer hardware, and server hosting capabilities. By taking advantage of the IaaS model, start-up companies, as well as enterprises can keep their overhead costs to a minimum.

Won't this cause your information to be vulnerable to infiltration by cloud-demons, both in the physical world and the cyber world?

One of largest concerns about cloud computing is, you guessed it, security. While speaking at the annual RSA Security Conference in 2009, Cisco CEO John Chambers cautiously referred to cloud computing "a security nightmare."

Craig Piercy, the director of the University of Georgia's Master of Internet Technology program, eases data concerns by saying "Giving an outside company the responsibility of storing and maintaining data is not new. It has been done for 20 to 30 years." He goes on to mention that "Clouds are getting more secure all of the time, so that may not be a problem in the near future."

At the 2010 RSA Security Conference, Chambers' security woes were cured and Piercy's prediction was confirmed. Kelly Higgins from DarkReading reports that Kirk Skaugen, a general manager of Intel's data center group, announced Intel’s new processing chip "Westmere" will effectively eliminate any concerns businesses may have when thinking about cloud life.

But will cloud computing continue to hover over our computer or begin to float on into the land of lost technology?

I believe cloud computing is here to stay. Cloud computing is granting small to medium sized businesses access to the technological resources they need to compete with the big boys; therefore sparking some much needed innovation, likely to make corporations sweat.

By having the same access to data centers, server farms, and software platforms, cloud computing is helping to create a fair playing field.

So be sure to check the forecast later in the year, because the phenomenon known as cloud computing is predicted to be hot, with a 100% chance of collaboration.

Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald, http://boxkite.net, and http://informitivechris.blogspot.com on Sunday, April 4th. 

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