You've probably heard the term "cloud computing" a lot these days, so what's all the hype about? The term describes how people are moving their data like their e-mail, documents, spreadsheets, pictures, music, videos, etc. all into online storage. This is a big change instead of the traditional ways of having everything stored only on their personal computer.
What about data theft?
Cloud computing although still in it's infancy is pretty mature technology with the internet as it's backbone making it much more reliable than storing data only at home. Online services and websites offering cloud computing have extremely high encryption and security technology keeping your data safe. I would be more worried about somebody breaking into my house and stealing my computer than my online data being stolen.
Popular free services
email - gmail, hotmail
documents - google docs, dropbox
photos - flickr(free version), picasa
blogging - blogger, wordpress, tumblr
Popular paid services
email - google apps, microsoft azure/live
backup - mozy, idrive
documents - google apps(docs) microsoft office web apps, zoho
photos - flickr(premium version), google apps(picasa)
Any device anywhere
One of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is availability, you upload data once, and then it's available to all of your devices. One great example is email, you can receive and send email from your mobile phone, your mail client on your computer and a web interface, and all without any need to manually synchronize them. And since your email is stored in the cloud, if say you're computer dies, you're email is fine, as it's not stored locally. The same scenario works for documents, photos, music, and any other type of data.
In the near future more people will collaborate through the internet and cloud computer than they do within the walls of a traditional office. In fact why would you need an office at all if you can communicate with others through instant messaging, telephone, video chat (i.e. skype), and email. Add in services that allow you to collaborate with documents and files and even a traditional office doesn't even need a local server.
Cut down in IT costs
- no costly servers to buy
- no server maintenance
- less electricity costs
- only an internet connection is needed
- no need to pay for backup tapes
- none or greatly reduced IT staff
- staff can work just as effectively from home if need be
What if the internet goes down?
Well, almost all of these services stored local cached copies on your computer, not only for the rare time that you're offline, but also for speed. So not too fear you can still work while offline, and then then next time you're online everything will sync automatically.