This article originally appeared in the Jan. 2012 issue of Cloud Computing.
There is so much talk about cloud that it might be confusing to the average technology buyer.
Not too long ago, there was simply hosting. A service provider would host not just your website, but the product catalog database like mySQL that was needed to provide complete information to your website visitors. Today, we call that “cloud.”
Email is the best example of a cloud application, since users can access email from a variety of devices via Internet access. That is the basis for The Cloud: universal access to business data from any authorized Internet-enabled device.
Software is changing from being a static piece of software on a disc that you load on your computer, like anti-virus software. With all the updates needed for software to continue to operate securely – think about updates to your operating system, Adobe (News - Alert) Flash or even anti-virus software makers have decided to change to a monthly service fee system to pay for the maintenance and upgrades.
With all of the various platforms – Android, Windows, Apple (News - Alert), Linux, WebOS – offering a web-based software application makes it easier for mass adoption with much less development overhead.
Two things have brought us to this point in cloud: ubiquitous broadband and mobility.
Now that we have broadband available most anywhere – via 3G, 4G, broadband, WiFi (News - Alert) – utilizing that access has become an industry in and of itself. Price shopping, group chats, restaurant reviews and reservations, what’s nearby, what’s happening – all ways that consumers utilize the cloud apps and mobile websites. But anything consumer is inching its way into business.
As businesses become global, virtual and mobile – with employees, partners and customers spread throughout the city, state, country or world – communicating with them from anywhere, at any time, is normal. It is normal because of apps that exploit the devices available that can access the Internet.
Communications in the cloud is just one example of how businesses leverage the Internet. However, email, text, SMS, IM/chat, voice and even video – what is termed “unified communications” – are the first step in collaboration for businesses, their partners and their customers. It is this interaction, this participation, this combination that has termed a buzz word like cloud into such a force in the telecom industry.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi