“The way I understand it, “cloud computing” refers to the bigger picture…basically the broad concept of using the internet to allow people to access technology-enabled services. According to Gartner, those services must be ‘massively scalable’ to qualify as true ‘cloud computing’. So according to that definition, every time I log into Facebook, or search for flights online, I am taking advantage of cloud computing.” – Praising Gaw (2008)
Cloud computing has been a major topic for years, but more and more companies are pushing it as a way to avoid operating system issues. Cloud computing is simply having all of your files and software hosted on a network somewhere. This means that all you need to acces the files and programs is a web browser. These systems work with any web browser. The system does not care what operating system you are using. You can use Windows, or Apple, or Linux. If you can get to the internet, you can get to your files and applications. Most people have already used a cloud system when they check their email with a web mail system. Cable, Verizon, AOL, Gmail, and Yahoo are all web based email systems that you can accces from any computer with a web browser.
The most popular cloud system is Google Apps. With Google Apps, you can create, edit, save, store, and share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. You could work on the file on an Apple computer at work, and then continue working on it on a Windows computer at home. There are other cloud systems out there, such as Zoho and Evernote. Many more companies are developing web apps so that they can have users from any operating system.
Schools should look into more cloud or web based applications in the future to eliminate the issues of compatibility between operating systems. Most web based applications offer offline applications that can run even without an Internet connection as well as a way to save your files to your own computer. The other benefit is that most of these systems are low cost or even free.
As the operating system wars heat up with Windows 7, Apple Snow Leopard and Ubuntu Linux, schools need to make sure that no matter what OS their faculty and students use at home, they can access files and applications at school and home. It also helps avoid the issue of “I forgot my assignment file at home,” or “my printer ran out of ink.” By using the web apps, students could just log into their account at school and print it out. Teachers would also always have their files available to them no matter where they are. In many cases, these new web applications will also save on licensing fees since they are free.
Web based applications and files can also be accessed from smart phones like the iPhone, Palm Pre, Blackberry, and G1. This means that you would have access to your files and applications at any time.
Gaw, P. (2008, July 25). What’s the Difference Between Cloud Computing and SaaS? Retrieved November 6, 2011, from Cloud Computing Journal: http://cloudcomputing.sys-con.com/node/612033