Power of cloud computing for the everyday user

Cloud computing is a term for a model of network computing that is convenient, on-demand, and allows a shared pool of computing resources that are configurable to the user’s needs. These would include networks, servers, storage, applications, and services that may be provisioned and allowed to move through a virtual atmosphere with a minimum of effort and maximum convenience. The idea of cloud computing now fills the perpetual need of information technology — an easy way to increase capacity and add capabilities whenever needed without the necessity of investing in new infrastructures, training new personnel, licensing new software, and developing and maintaining new hardware protocols. In fact, the very power of cloud computing is that it can be subscription based, pay per use, free, and is usually in real time over the Internet. Cloud computing is, in fact, a robust way of extending IT’s existing capabilities (Miller, 2008).

The real power of cloud computing for the everyday user is that it changes the way we store, retrieve, and run applications. Instead of running programs, manipulating data, and multitasking on our individual desktops, everything we need is hosted in the “cloud” — with far more room and power than our individual systems. And, while some might worry about data being “lost” or compromised, the truth is that with the new internet speeds and security firewalls and protocol, we will be able to access all our applications, documents, and data from any computer or computer device (pad, smartphone, laptop, etc.) anywhere in the world. This actually frees us from our desktop, makes it easier for members of different groups to collaborate, and should, in theory, increase our productivity. In fact, some writers are so enthralled about the possibilities of cloud computing they liken it to:

… the computing equivalent of the electricity revolution of a century ago. Before the advent of electrical utilities, every farm and business produced its own electricity from freestanding generators. After the electrical grid was created, farms and businesses shut down their generators and bought electricity from the utilities, at a much lower price (and with much greater reliability) than they could produce on their own (Miller, p.4).

History of Cloud Computing — The idea of a “cloud” as a metaphor is based on the way telephone networks were originally visualized and the way the Internet was used in computer networking — the cloud representing the overall ethereal quality of information being stored “outside” in a cloud. The actual concept dates back to the 1960s, when it was hypothesized that computers might someday be organized just like a public utility. And, in fact, the idea of what cloud computing represents (elastic provision of data, used as a common utility, online, has the illusion of infinite supply, etc.) is almost identical to the revolution in the use of public and private funding for electricity, telephone, and other utilities, although the cloud computing revolution will likely occur far faster. Cloud computing extends the boundaries of usage for the individual user to really limitless (global that is) range (Milis, 2009).

It is, however, difficult to separate the development of cloud computing with the burgeoning evolution of the internet and globalism. We now live in a computerized, Internet based, society based on the paradigm of globalism. The concept of globalization in economic and cultural development is a reality for the 21st century. The Internet and advances in telecommunication has made it easy to do business with any country in the world, to increase cultural and social contact, and to extend more timely communication between individuals. Similarly, the end of the Cold War signaled a different type of realignment of nations — rather than East West philosophically dividing the world, global cultures are now looking to trade and economic growth to change the pattern of their own structures. The developing world, able to see and hear news and entertainment from the developed world, wants to change. This change resulted in a new and different paradigm for marketing research — not only in the collection of data (the means), but the review and interpretation of data based on a citizenry that may not be as marketing sophisticated as those in the first world (Keegan and Green, 2010). As the popularity of the Internet grew, and marketing became a necessity, not an option, it was obvious that the Internet was also a superb tool for gleaning more information about the consumer. Here was a relatively captive audience with which one could collect volumes of data very quickly and inexpensively. Too, internet transactions are far more dynamic and less predictable than their physical counterparts — clicking through and ordering a product has different barriers to entry and psychological pressures than the traditional sales and marketing format.

Ironically, it was the demise of some of the dot commers and the evolution of Amazon.com that played a key role in the development of cloud computing. The face of marketing, however, has evolved rapidly in the late 20th century, and even more in the early 21st century. The primary reason for this, of course, is the drastic changes in technology and communication that impact both the consumer and the entire marketing paradigm. The Internet, for instance, he made the world a global marketplace — it does not matter where one lives, as long as there is Internet service most software products can be delivered, in other places, as long as FedEx and UPS to an airport nearby, consumers may purchase just about anything. For a company’s investment, e-marketing refers to placement of media along differing stages of the consumer cycle: search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), banner ads on specific and targeted websites, e-mail marketing, and Web 2.0 strategies. This new investment changes the way organizations invest advertising dollars, customer definitions, and even sales and distribution channels (Rana, 2009). One superb example of this is Amazon.com. Their software builds a “picture” of the consumer based on their search habits, keywords and, as they purchase more, their buying habits. They also offer other consumer goods, electronic products, and more. Thus, the algorithm allows for someone interested in, say, camping, to receive recommendations on outdoor activities, camping, goods that relate to camping or the outdoors, clothing, and various “niche” publications that might interest them. Not only do suggested works come up when this consumer performs a search, but is also sent future emails and offers dealing with their specific interest. The consumer feels that a more personal approach has been taken toward their needs, and Amazon has quickly helped boost its add-on sales in a short, and relatively easy time (Chaffey, 2003). This tremendous success with a form of cloud computing, of course, spurred others on.

In 2008, Eucalyptus became the first open-source platform programming that allowed private clouds. In the same year, the European Union backed Reservoir/Open Nebula became the first open-source software for allowing the deployment of private and hybrid clouds, and more and more companies globally began to see that cloud computing was an opportunity to “shape the relationship among consumers of IT services, those who use IT services, and those who sell IT services” (Schnurr, 2008). Professionals were amazed than in just a few short months, “organizations were switching from company-owned hardware and software assets to per-use service-based models” which allows “the projected shift to cloud computing….. resulting in a dramatic growth in IT products” in most areas (Gartner Corporation, 2008).

How It Works – One of the first changes the lay user needs to understand about cloud computing is that it is both intelligent and programmable. It is intelligent in the since that with all the various bits of data stores on the computers in a cloud, both data mining and analysis are unnecessary to access that information in a cogent and intelligent manner. It is programmable because many of the tasks necessary to utilize the cloud are, by necessity, automated. So, for example, to protect the actual integrity of the data set, information on a single part of the cloud (one computer) must be replicated on additional computers. If one computer goes offline, then the cloud’s programming automatically redistributes that data set to another computer on the cloud without any user influence whatsoever (The Metaphor of Cloud Computing, 2010).

While the concept of cloud sharing is relatively simple the process is fairly complex and did require a certain level of computing and memory power to launch. The front end user interface must first send a request to the system. The system management then finds the resources and provisions the memory. These services work together to reserve the various resources in the cloud, launch the appropriate application and either create or reopen the needed documents. After the Internet application is opened, various monitoring and metering functions track the usage of the entire cloud so that resources may be appropriately allocated. Data is stored on any number of third-party servers, as opposed to the kind of dedicated servers one might be used to in traditional networking. The user, of course, sees a virtual service (appearing like the data is stored in certain icon), the actual storage could be anywhere, and could vary from day-to-day. This is an advantage to the overall efficiency of the system because storage resources can then be allocated rather than static (Smith, Computing Beyond the Firewall, 2010).

Cloud services are any web-based application — from calendars and contact applications to word processing, database management, presentations, and even niche market proprietary software applications. If one PC or user application crashes, it has no effect on the others since documents are not machine based, but user based. We can more fully understand this if we think of cloud computing as a triangle, with the server as the base and the user as the pinnacle.

The user, or client consists of computer hardware or software that relies on cloud computing for its delivery — useless without it (pc, smartphone, laptop, tablet, etc.).

The application is also called the Saas (Software as a Service) and delivers software applications of the Internet, which eliminates the need for installation, running, and maintaining a program.

Cloud platform services, also known as Paas (Platform as Service) deliver a computing platform or solution as a service, using cloud infrastructure and sustaining cloud applications. This makes it far easier to deploy applications without the cost, complexity and time of buying and managing layers upon layers of hardware and software.

Infrastructure — Cloud infrastructure, Iaas, (Infrastructure as a Service), deliveries’ a platform virtualization, raw storage, networking, and the electronic building. This enables organizations to use complex platforms without purchasing servers, data center space, network equipment or more staff for IT. The amount of infrastructure services consumed is typically equal to the level of activity for the organization or project.

Server — Is the layer of computer hardware and software products and packages designed for cloud services. These include multi-core processors, systems, and combinations thereof. Until multi-core processing was available at a relatively inexpensive rate, cloud computing was not available to the general user (Nimbus is Cloud Computing for Science, 2011; Markoff, 2008; Duffy, 2009).

Advantages-Disadvantages — As with all technology/tools, there are both advantages and disadvantages to cloud computing. There are a number of direct benefits to the idea:

It is dynamic and scalable — businesses can draw as much computing power as necessary on an individual basis based on their own internal needs.

Computing needs may be purchased with operational funds rather than capital expenditures. This allows for seasonal growth patterns, certain spikes, and typically requires less approval and strategic planning. The individual or business could, of course, use it for one day, and then move on once the larger project was finished.

Because the computer equipment does not reside in the local facility, it does not require space, electrical wiring, modifications to cooling, or even IT staff.

The services are highly competitive — if service is not provided to the level needed, one can shift to another company with better prices or services.

The flexibility is enormous, especially for multinationals. Instead of buzzing around the world with zip drives or laptops that may or may not have the most current information or presentation, all materials are available 24/7 through the cloud.

Individuals, businesses, and organizations (colleges, universities, scientific groups, etc.) may work in tandem and collaborate on a wide variety of projects.

Because of the nature of the “cloud,” most individuals and small organizations could never hope to have access to such storage and power. The cloud offers affordable “rent” time as necessary.

There are concerns, however:

Many organizations remain hesitant due to security issues, or at least potentials. Thus far, though, there have been no client-to-client penetrations and adequate security seems to be the norm.

Organizations may have concerns over the location of their data; U.S. based companies express concerns about storage in Asia; other countries express concern over storage in the U.S. And the potential of being under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Patriot Act.

Some experienced cloud computing users have noticed a wide variation in the performance of their applications that run in the cloud. Allocation of cloud resources is not something the individual user controls or even has any idea of. If a large organization has a major project one day, then resources might be slim, etc.

There are, of course, small bugs that need to be worked out; there have been crashes with some companies that cause inconvenience to users.

In the same way, some companies have such unique services that it makes it difficult to move resources if needed.

Cloud computing is relatively new, some details still need to be developed (Smith, 2009).

Current Deployment Models- Because of the flexibility of the cloud system, there are various ways it can be organized and parceled for optimization of services. For instance:

Public clouds — are the traditional mainstreamed use; resources are provided to the general public on a high level self-service basis over the Internet and billed just as a utility would be.

Community cloud — would share the infrastructure between several organizations with specific concerns (e.g. A multinational corporation or legal operation). These concerns might include security, compliance issues, jurisdiction, etc. The costs are spread over fewer users than a public cloud, but the benefits of sharing are still there.

Hybrid cloud — a composition of two or more clouds that remains unique but placed together to share multiple benefits (a public side, private side, etc.).

Private cloud — is infrastructure that operates solely for a single organization and would really be considered more of a private network based on cloud computing (for a multinational corporation, for instance).

Intercloud – is an extension of the Internet by connecting clouds of clouds. It is based on the notion that each single cloud does not have infinite physical resources, and could become saturated, which would then cause it not to be able to satisfy allocation requests. The intercloud addresses this by reallocating other clouds as storage areas (Johnston, 2009; Haff, 2009; Carr, 2011).

The Future of Cloud Computing – It has been years since there has been such a mentioned technical issue in the computing world. Many analysts believe that it is more important for executives, academics, and even polititicans to understand the implications of cloud computing than every. Cloud computing will be the modus operendii of the user, even the average user. The cloud will enable companies to envision and send to maket far more products because of the flexibility, global reach, and ease of use within the business model. Corporate IT departments will change and employees will need only a viewing device (tablet) rather than pcs or even smart phone. Governments will use cloud computing to shore up the economy and countries like India will lose their massive outsourcing because it will no longer be needed. Above all, cloud computing will change the way we think about information, and information is the way we grow, change, evolve and become focused more on results than the technical way we received the data (Alvarez & Cooke, 2011)


The Metaphor of Cloud Computing. (2010). ETC: A Review of General Semantics, 67(1), 119-21.

Nimbus is Cloud Computing for Science. (2011, March). Retrieved from Nimbus: http://www.nimbusproject.org/

Alvarez, E., & Cooke, M. (2011, August 12). Cloud Computing is Here and Expanding. Retrieved from The Connected Business: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/af14c7b4-c509-11e0-ba51-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1V1sk764D

Carr, D. (2011, August 11). Cloud Videoconferencing For Pennies. Retrieved from The Brainyard: http://www.informationweek.com/thebrainyard/news/video_conferencing_telepresence/231400088/cloud-videoconferencing-for-pennies-one-new-answer

Chaffey, D. (2003). Internet Marketing Strategy: Implementation and Pratice. New York: Prentice Hall.

Duffy, J. (2009, May 12). Cisco Unveils Cloud Computing Platform. Retrieved from Info World: http://www.infoworld.com/d/cloud-computing/cisco-unveils-cloud-computing-platform-service-providers-113

Gartner Corporation. (2008, August 18). Garnter Says Worldwide IT Spending on Pace to Surpass $3.4 Trillion in 2008. Retrieved from Gartner.com: http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=742913

Haff, G. (2009, January 27). Just Don’t Call Them Private Clouds. Retrieved from CNET News: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13556_3-10150841-61.html

Johnston, S. (2009, June 22). The Intercloud is a Global Cloud of CLouds. Retrieved from Samj.net: http://samj.net/2009/06/intercloud-is-global-cloud-of-clouds.html

Keegan and Green. (2010). Global Marketing. New York: Prentice Hall.

Markoff, J. (2008, October 27). Microsoft Plans ‘Cloud’ Operating System. Retrieved from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/28/technology/28soft.html

Milis, E. (2009, January 27). Cloud Computing Security Forecast: Clear Skies. Retrieved from CNET News: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-10150569-83.html

Miller, M. (2008). Cloud Computing: Web-Based Applications That Change the Way you Work and Collaborate Online. New York: QUE Publications.

Rana, N. (2009). E-Marketing Intelligence – Transforming Brand and Increasing Sales. Washington, DC: SE Publishers.

Schnurr, A. (2008, July 8). Keep an Eye on Cloud Computing. Retrieved from NetworkWorld: http://www.networkworld.com/newsletters/itlead/2008/070708itlead1.html

Smith, R. (2009). Computing in the Cloud. Research Technology Management, 52(5), 65-72.

Smith, R. (2010). Computing Beyond the Firewall. Research Technology Management, 53(3), 64-73.






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