Using the Cloud

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If you have used a search engine or a web based e-mail account recently, then you have already used Cloud computing. The big fuss lately is that the Cloud is being used in commercial and government sectors more and more, but it is becoming accessible to small businesses, not just the big operators such as Google and Microsoft. All sorts of sizes of business are now starting to use Cloud computing, from small start-ups looking for something for free to much larger companies to help them cope with surges in demand online.

The Cloud can be used for lowly tasks like e-mail and document storage, rather than storing everything on a PC as well as providing large-scale capacity on Cloud servers.

Many companies have already moved their businesses to the Cloud and even the UK government is setting up its own Cloud and is expected to save some 20 percent reduction in costs – a massive £3.2 bn. The Cloud may also be able to provide mobile computing in the future.

It is widely anticipated that businesses will stop using hardware in favor of Cloud completing and that it is the way things will develop into the future.

Amazon hit the headlines in Business Week magazine when they launched their Elastic Compute Cloud or EC2 at 2am one morning in August 2008. The idea was that Amazon would offer their surplus computing power to their customers for a price -- in other words Amazon is renting out their spare computer capacity to anyone who wants it.

Since then, many businesses are realizing they don't need to hang on to their expensive computers or their own servers in order to run their businesses -- they can turn all the processing over to someone else -- a Cloud computing provider. One major advantage of this is that the provider handles any surges in demand -- the business doesn't need to worry about it, just as an electricity power station handles the variation in demand for electricity.

One of the main causes of resistance to the Cloud is that people don't like their data being out there at risk of other people seeing their documents and their data but it seems to be the way things are moving in computing. Some argue that the Cloud is not perfect but it is more secure than most companies already achieve.

Using the Cloud means you have to trust a third-party to store your data but how can you keep your personal secrets and the security of your data safe when using the Cloud? Some companies have found the Cloud to be a godsend and are more than happy with the security of their data, but others have had a nightmare with times when the Cloud server is down and there is no way of reaching them to sort things out.

Generally Cloud service providers are probably more secure and reliable than most small businesses and put a lot more in terms of resources into security and reliability. In the future, security issues will be addressed thoroughly to answer customer’s concerns and Cloud service providers will pay a lot of attention to security and reliability making the Cloud a real alternative to the way we do things now.