The following is a guest blog by Jim Nelson, a guest blogger who writes about secure file transfer and other computer file-related topics.
Cloud computing is a few years old, but despite the many benefits and the fact that the term has entered the public consciousness, there are still a lot of people that are in the dark concerning what the cloud actually is and what it can do. It's not like the Internet, which had a clear definition and immediately visible perks, like online commerce. The cloud is more-or-less the next stage of online innovation; it improves on what already exists as opposed to creating something entirely new.
Is it Reliable?
That doesn't mean there aren't misconceptions and concerns that mirror the fears people had when the Internet first came into prominence. It took years before the bulk of the population was comfortable entering their credit card numbers into online forms, and because one of the touted benefits of cloud computing is remote storage the question that naturally follows is, "How reliable is it?" It's a lot less expensive than buying multiple external hard drives to back up important data, but the cost savings don't matter if the servers ever go down.
However, while the concerns are understandable, they're a result of not understanding how far cloud computing has already come. People use cloud-based services all the time without realizing it. Gmail and other online e-mail providers are a prime example of that, and the stability of cloud computing can be demonstrated by the fact that even though nearly every one of those services has experienced hiccups since they were first introduced, data loss has been extremely rare. There's a higher chance that files stored on a local hard drive will be corrupt when someone tries to retrieve them than it is that everything stored within an e-mail account will simply disappear.
What About Hackers?
The real concern is security, although that's mostly on the user's end because a lot of people don't choose strong passwords or they use the same passwords for multiple services. The companies that offer remote data storage implement security protocols that are tougher than what some governments use to protect their classified documents. It's much easier to steal a physical hard drive than it is to hack into a service like SOS. They do everything possible to keep their customer's data secure; it's up to the user to do the rest.
What Else Can Cloud Computing Do?
Most of the time cloud computing is referred to in relation to storage, but that's far from the only thing it can be used for. In fact, as more machines become Internet capable, there's a high chance that most of the tasks users rely on their local hardware to perform will move onto the Web. That feeds into the biggest advantage of the cloud: mobility.
When every document, file, or piece of media can be accessed from every device, it's possible to start on something at work, go home, and continue working on the project there without fussing with flash drives or losing anything in the process. When every piece of digital content someone has purchased is stored remotely it can be accessed from a number of devices within the house, enabling the user to start listening to a song in their bedroom and finish listening to it while they make breakfast.
Cloud computing isn't just an attempt to blur the lines between physical hardware and the Internet; it's meant to allow for seamless transitions between spaces and devices. This increase in mobility is also a potential increase in terms of productivity and choice. It allows consumers to access their entertainment on their terms, and it makes collaborating on work projects simpler than it has ever been before.
Building Quality Cloud Applications
One of the most important things to consider when utlizing the cloud for your projects is ensuring consistent high quality applications and APIs across the entire lifecycle to avoid the garbage in, garbage out scenario. SmartBear has a host of cloud resources and cloud testing tools to help you from start to finish.
The Cloud is the Future
With each new hardware release, the cloud plays a bigger role in how it functions. Ultimately, this could translate to cheaper hardware and less-bloated operating systems that make the Internet the centerpiece of all major offerings. It's a leap that's as big as making the Internet available to consumers, and although its effects will be much more subtle, the computing landscape one decade from now will prominently feature cloud computing as a component of every operation that computers perform. It is undoubtedly a positive advancement for tech-heads, consumers, and workers alike.