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By Dr. Philip Baczewski, Director of Academic Computing and User Services
You can usually sense a technology's place on the cycle by how it is discussed in the IT trade press. The IT trade press is the herald of unrealistic expectations. It's not so much what is said, but how incessantly they say it. What's currently being hyped is cloud computing. As of July 2008, cloud computing is still on the rise in Gartner's web technologies hype cycle, but I'd guess that it may be soon rocketing to the crest of the unrealistic expectations curve.
Heads in the clouds?
Cloud computing has nothing to do with weather forecasting. The idea
of cloud computing is that instead of your primary IT processing
happening on your desktop computer or your local server, it is happening
on some company's server and being accessed by you over the Internet.
The cloud idea comes from the fact that when IT professionals draw
pictures of how things work over the Internet, the Internet itself is
often represented by a picture of a cloud and, as Arthur C. Clark would
So, what's in a cloud? Applications, storage, OS instances, data
Some people are already using the cloud without knowing it when they
read their Gmail or access their Google calendar. But Google, while
being a primary denizen of the cloud, is not the only player. There are
other clouds in the Internet sky and the
There are a bunch of companies that now offer online data backup services to businesses and individuals. Managing data backups internally is becoming increasingly complex and expensive because the amount of data being generated is constantly increasing. But if backup is your business, you specialize on creating an expanding, possibly distributed, storage system that is less expensive than an in-house solution. Customers just connect to your site and, poof, their data is replicated in the cloud and is presumably safe and secure if it's ever needed. Certainly the cloud is the ultimate off-site data repository.
How safe is your data?
Of course, as some have
In spite of the hype, there are many questions still surrounding cloud computing. it may seem so easy to turn responsibility for programs and data storage over to the faceless cloud and only need to glide through the world with browser in hand, but whose full faith and credit will safeguard your data and guaranty your applications? Are our heads in the clouds or in the sand?