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Cloud computing is already a staple of today's business world. Many of us share documents daily through OneDrive, Dropbox or countless other cloud based storage systems.
But what is the cloud? Many are already familiar with it, but others may only know of the buzzword and are unclear as to what it means.
Previously, we would string together servers and access them through cables in the same building – and, in fact, this is still true of almost all companies today. However, as internet speeds increase, we are able to download more and more data. Today, speeds are so fast that we can store and retrieve files over the internet without much interruption, even though the files aren’t really on our computer or even in the same building anymore. That’s the cloud.
There are still many questions regarding the cloud, especially when it comes to security. Some feel uncomfortable allowing a company to hold on to all of our data, and for people unaccustomed to dealing with privacy settings and sharing files, it can be confusing setting up folders and documents in public services like Dropbox or Google Drive. Mistakes can and often do happen, such as accidentally leaving a product viewable to the public. This can lead people to distrust and avoid these solutions.
Cloud computing presents deeper privacy concerns because service providers can access the data that is on the cloud at any time. It could theoretically alter or even remove information, which is a major concern.
There are also concerns over vendor lock-in. Cloud computing is still in its infancy by computing standards, so many platforms use specific standards and tools unique to each vendor, making them incompatible. This can make migration difficult and potentially expensive.
Even so, there are many benefits.
Updating hardware is removed entirely and left up to the vendor.
Improved flexibility means companies can remain agile and change direction with fewer financial or human resources.
Globalizing the workforce and improving remote working opportunities leads to happier employees and gives access to talent outside of a company's immediate area.
Accessibility is improved. More and more software is cloud-based, accessible across multiple devices through the browser. Major companies are moving in the same direction. Adobe took the leap by moving to a subscription-based package for their creative suite. We've seen the same shift with Microsoft office. I believe we’ll see more and more software packages moving to a subscription model. Updates will be on the fly - new features will be integrated without major software updates.
In the not-too-distant future, it will become viable to do all of your processing through the cloud and simply stream the “output” as video to your device. This will eliminate the need for bulky desktop computers, because all processing will be done in the cloud.
This could have huge implications for the gaming industry that currently relies on graphics cards and cutting-edge hardware to improve performance. If all of that processing is done in the cloud with video output simply streamed to the user’s screen, users won't need to update their hardware to keep up with trends.
All in all, the future looks bright for cloud computing and anyone who specializes in networking!
Submitted by James Huntley, Design Team Manager, Marketing