Cloud com­put­ing

Finweek English Edition - - Communication & Technology - BENE­DICT KELLY benk@fin­week.co.za

IF YOU SPEAK TO ANY of the large tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies chances are the term cloud com­put­ing will come up. The con­cept is that in­stead of hav­ing a com­puter pro­gram sit­ting on your PC it sits ei­ther par­tially or en­tirely on the In­ter­net. The ben­e­fit is that you can get ac­cess to all your in­for­ma­tion from a va­ri­ety of lo­ca­tions and de­vices and even if you are in the mid­dle of nowhere you could still work on a bor­rowed com­puter.

The clas­sic ex­am­ple of that is some­thing like Gmail or Google Docs, where you sim­ply ac­cess the ser­vice through your web browser. Other forms of cloud com­put­ing rely on a very light desk­top client with all the in­for­ma­tion stored on a server some­where. That al­lows peo­ple to ac­cess large amounts of con­tin­u­ously up­dated in­for­ma­tion from al­most any­where.

An im­por­tant pre­cept of cloud com­put­ing is the abil­ity of the ser­vice to scale. Be­cause you’re us­ing a vir­tual pool of com­put­ers sit­u­ated some­where on the Net – but not con­strained to a spe­cific lo­ca­tion – it should be pos­si­ble to add large amounts of new users to the sys­tem without ev­ery­thing fall­ing over.

Of course, the big­gest po­ten­tial fail­ure of the cloud-com­put­ing model is that all are re­ly­ing on their net­work. Of course net­works have a habit of fail­ing, leav­ing all your data stuck on the cloud some­where to which you have no ac­cess.

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