What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is comparable to accessing your home computer from the internet. Instead of downloading applications and saving files on your computer, cloud computing allows us to store them on a server and access them via your Internet browser. One of the easiest examples of this form of computing is Google Docs.
Now, this may set off your internal dialogue concerning security and privacy. This is to be expected as many people still refuse to purchase goods online due to fraud and privacy concerns. These concerns are however, largely ungrounded. Many very large companies utilize cloud computing including Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce and the myriad of nationwide facilities utilizing hosted work order management software.
The benefits are vast and far too many to list here but let’s touch on a few:
- Storage space – Cloud servers have much greater memory capacity than personal computers do and this can cut down your upgrade costs over time. Think music, videos and photos.
- Mobility – Without the need to sign into your home computer, you can access important files and programs from anywhere there is an Internet connection. With smart phones, mobile access to your files may be a huge plus as well. Again, music, videos and photos are a prime example.
- Collaboration – With all of the data stored in the cloud, you may share and/or grant access to your resources to other people in the most seamless way. No more emailing a spreadsheet; just share it via Google Docs for example.
Let’s now take a look at some of the most impressive forms of cloud computing today and where you can purchase them. Many of today’s largest tech companies have entered the arena for what is becoming an all-out global war. Here is the list in no particular order:
Google is reigning king of the Internet right now and always command due respect. Plus, we are all quite familiar with many of Google’s Cloud computing offerings already – Gmail, Docs, Spreadsheets. Some of the less familiar products include Music Beta by Google and Picasso for your photo albums. Here is a quick breakdown of the product:
- Space: up to 16TB, 20,000 songs. While 16TB is a huge amount, the downside is that you are limited within each of the product offerings. For instance the 2GB in Gmail.
- Music – No music to purchase but you can upload your own library.
- Ease of use – For the first timer, Google will seem to make cloud computing easy for you. As we learn later, others may have this system a bit better. There is no one folder to upload to, rather many different applications to integrate between (Gmail, Docs, Music Beta, etc.. )
- Cost – Free (for now) and then $0.25/GB
Windows Live SkyDrive
Always innovative and never far behind the competition, Microsoft is an obvious contender in the cloud computing realm. SkyDrive provides a great deal of value and overall feels very simple. In rudimentary terms, you are given space and the choice to fill it with whatever you choose. Slightly different than the variable applications provided through Google. Quick breakdown:
- Space – 25BG free, but that’s the cap. While it’s easy to access, there is no room for additional space leaving it a bit behind the competition.
- Music – NONE. While you can store your files here, don’t expect to play them from Microsoft’s service
- Ease of use – SkyDrive might be a little slower than others, but it makes up for this will aesthetic appeal and simplicity.
- Cost – Free up to 25GB
Apple is projected to become the most profitable company in the United States and it’s easy to see why. They are in many industry verticals and cloud computing fits the bill perfectly. If you are running on Apple’s system, this is the sure-fire solution for you. It’s seamless integration with their products is wonderful and as always with Apple, it is quite slick.
- Space – 5GB, 25,000+ Songs. As with Google, this space is compartmentalized and you will need to manage your space wisely. Overall, plenty of room.
- Music – You can upload your library plus there are the vast 18 million + songs available through Itunes.
- Ease of use – Hands down winner with iCloud here. Integration so seamless, you don’t even know that you are restricted from actually accessing the server. From music to your photo albums, everything stays put and is readily available.
- Cost – Free (except for matching Itunes).
No longer your simple source for online shopping, Amazon is beginning to flex their technical muscles in new verticals. If this service begins to take off, we look forward to the tweaks of what will be a great service. Besides the shaky usability and lack of syncing, Amazon Cloud offers up a great deal of storage with easy access. Quickly:
- Space – A very straightforward 5GB-1TB of storage
- Music – Upload your library plus receive access to the extensive 15 million + Songs available through Amazon.
- Ease of use – Like to see some improvement in the usability as it can be clucky at times. Sure to see some tweaks to what is not a bad service.
- Cost – Free up to 5GB, then $1/GB. Simple enough for our liking, but could become costly if you are getting up there in file space.
Probably the most elegant of all 5, DropBox offers incredible compatibility across your devices. Without music nor a store, it’s a bit difficult to put the crown on this service, but the free storage is also worth noting. Unfortunately if you surpass the allotted storage it could become the priciest of the bunch. Considering it’s compatibility, consider this your go-to option for syncing other devices or services
- Space – 100GB.
- Music – None. Sorry, can’t play your library with DropBox as of yet.
- Ease of use – Very straightforward and extremely elegant. Neck and neck with iCloud for top honors.
- Cost – Free up to 2GB, then $2/GB. Starts off great and tails to the expensive side.
Overall, all of these services have their positives and negatives as is with every industry market. The point here was not to choose a winner but to give you a better understanding of cloud computing and it’s simple application in daily life. Many of you are already using it and may not even have noticed yet. Go out and take advantage of what this exploding market has to offer.
Anthony is most notable a freelance writed working with companies to streamline management through maintenance management software providers. In his spare time he enjoys the outdoors from the seat of a kayak or on the throne behind his drums.