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Clueless About the Cloud

A recent market study shows that about 22% of U.S. consumers are familiar with the term “cloud computing,” yet 76% of these same people were using services that actively promote themselves as part of the cloud.

What are some of the applications these people use? Web-based email services such as Hotmail, Yahoo!, or Gmail for starters. Web-based email has been around for a very long time and was one of the first forms of cloud computing readily available – all the content is stored off your computer and is accessible anywhere.

Cloud computing applications are hosted on servers that anyone can access remotely. These servers are dedicated for the specific application and are maintained and upgraded without any configuration on the client’s side. The client accesses a basic interface on the front end, while the cloud (or server) runs all the software on the back end. The server can administer permissions or rule sets (protocols) based on the client. This plays a major part in subscription-based services and how the different accounts are handled.

Computers and smart phones have become a necessity to businesses, and now that data can be shared and synced up for better organization. Employees no longer need to install individual components – they can login to a server and access all their email, applications, and data from any location. Google Docs is also a growing popular form of cloud computing, since you do not need to install any software onto your computer, and the data syncs with your Android phone seamlessly.

Even your personal entertainment options benefit from this new integration. You can load up and stream your favorite movies and TV shows from Hulu or Netflix without having to adhere to any programming schedule but, unlike a DVR, you can watch it from any mobile device as well. New music services like Google Music, Spotify, and Turntable.fm are allowing users a new way to access libraries and create their own custom radio channels to share through social media. The possibilities are endless; additional services are constantly cropping up to take advantage of all the hype around the “cloud.”

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Rajiv Kothari is an industry insider who moonlights as a computer enthusiast, providing a different perspective and insight to new technologies.