February 5th, 2018
Everyone uses cloud computing, but not everyone gets it. Simply put, whether you’re searching online, creating documents with web-based software, or accessing a web-based e-mail account, you’re using the cloud.
Cloud computing means that the infrastructure enabling your web tasks is accessed via the Internet. The processing, storing, and filtering of information is done through a server that may be thousands of miles away or just next door. And as this activity happens seamlessly and invisibly, it seems to be happening “in a cloud.”
The pros of cloud computing are many. With cloud services, you eliminate the up-front capital cost of computers and peripherals, as well as the need to buy and maintain software licenses. Others have to worry about virus attacks, and you don’t have to back up files. Plus it’s quick and easy to add applications and purge those no longer needed.
But convenience has a downside. Up-front capital savings will likely become ongoing operating costs. And with cloud services, you may be limited to off-the-shelf solutions rather than tools designed for your specific needs. As well, suppliers may stop supporting a product you depend on, and there are privacy and security issues that arise because your data is on someone else’s system in an unknown location.
The search for a “better” cloud has been underway for many years. Edge computing, which brings the processing of data closer to home, is one alternative. And there will be more: these days the cloud—or something like it—has become virtually indispensable. I for one couldn't live without DropBox.