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The business of cloud computing

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Cloud Computing in of itself is not new. if you have been using Yahoo email or Micrsoft's email-known as 'hot mail' you have using cloud computing for many years.

The same is true for your Facebook and/or Twitter account. It is stored in the 'cloud' so to speak If you use an Instagram or Flickr account for your photos, again these pictures are not taking up valuable disk space on your computer, but instead are stored on these third party sites.

All this is moot or redundant if you continue to store these photos on your hard drive as well.

In other words,rather than taking up disk space on your hard drive and using up your finite amount of computer memory, your email and pictures are stored remotely in the 'cloud' on another server.

What is new though is the scale of cloud computing. Because computer storage increases every along with bandwith and processing, there is a need for big businesses to store their massive amounts of data on remote servers.

Again the benefit is to save valuable internal storage coupled with the ability to securely access that data-even though it is stored externally from anywhere at anytime.

Cloud Computing provides a shared pool of resources, including data storage space, networks, computer processing power, and specialized corporate and user applications.

Another term for cloud computing is 'data hosting.'

The growth of cloud computing services from the aforementioned web-based email has morphed also into online document storage and photo sharing sites. These services are based on a computing infrastructure that relies on huge computer server farms and high-speed network connections that allow users to access their content from any device connected to the Internet.

Cloud computing services offer the promise of convenience and cost savings, but at a price of reduced control over your own content, reliance on third-party providers and potential privacy risks should the data “hosted in the cloud” be disclosed to law enforcement agencies without appropriate disclosure or oversight.

These companies are working hard to ensure their customers of encrypting all data. Many cloud services probably have better security safeguards in place than individual business. That said, there is a perception by some,that that may not be the case.

Cloud services are popular because they can reduce the cost and complexity of owning and operating computers and networks. Since cloud users do not have to invest in information technology infrastructure, purchase hardware, or buy software licenses, the benefits are low up-front costs, rapid return on investment, rapid deployment, customization, flexible use, and solutions that can make use of new innovations. In addition, cloud providers that have specialized in a particular area (such as e-mail) can bring advanced services that a single company might not be able to afford or develop.

Some other benefits to users include scalability, reliability, and efficiency. Scalability means that cloud computing offers unlimited processing and storage capacity. The cloud is reliable in that it enables access to applications and documents anywhere in the world via the Internet. Cloud computing is often considered efficient because it allows organizations to free up resources to focus on innovation and product development.

Another potential benefit is that personal information may be better protected in the cloud. Specifically, cloud computing may improve efforts to build privacy protection into technology from the start and the use of better security mechanisms. Cloud computing will enable more flexible IT acquisition and improvements, which may permit adjustments to procedures based on the sensitivity of the data. Widespread use of the cloud may also encourage open standards for cloud computing that will establish baseline data security features common across different services and providers. Cloud computing may also allow for better audit trails. In addition, information in the cloud is not as easily lost (when compared to the paper documents or hard drives, for example).

Cloud computing offers benefits for organizations and individuals. There are also privacy and security concerns. If you are considering a cloud service, you should think about how your personal information, and that of your customers, can best be protected. Carefully review the terms of service or contracts, and challenge the provider to meet your needs.

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