Cloud computing is a hot topic in the IT industry, moving from a somewhat esoteric and fantastical concept into a mainstream reality.
It has made a major impact on many different areas, but there are also types of technology that it has either killed off completely or is in the process of rendering irrelevant. Here are eight things which cloud computing already has or might put out to pasture over the next few years.
Internal storage for individual devices has been very important over the years, with individuals and businesses relying on hard drives to keep critical information in a stable and easily accessible environment. But internal or on-premises storage has always been problematic because of the physical limitations it imposes.
If you reach a hard drive’s capacity, you either need to delete existing content or invest in yet more hardware that you need to install and maintain. With the cloud, nearly limitless amounts of storage can be accessed and purchased on-demand, allowing for a scalable and flexible approach to data backup and business continuity that was previously out of reach.
As with hard drives, physical media formats are quickly becoming obsolete. Tapes and floppy discs died out in due course, but with the emergence of cloud technology it is no longer necessary to store or transport information on things such as CDs, DVDs, Blu Ray discs or even USB drives.
This is particularly relevant in the wake of major data-loss incidents, in which companies have been heavily criticised after physical media was either left in a public place or stolen while in the care of an employee. By keeping everything in the cloud, firms can be sure that data is still accessible from remote locations while also having a better level of security and protection for precious information.
Most people will be familiar with the process by which software is installed on a PC or Mac, requiring the use of some form of physical media, or more recently a digital download. This installation allows your computer to run software as an independent entity, using local hardware resources to store the necessary data and crunch the numbers. However, with cloud computing it is possible to offer software as a service like any other.That means storage and processing is handled remotely by server farms and you can often gain access to the software through a web browser. The result is that complicated, processor-intensive software can be used from a low-powered machine without any problems. In addition, things such as OS compatibility are also less important.
Recent statistics suggest that in the US about a third of all internet bandwidth is consumed by people who are streaming TV shows, movies and other video presentations from Netflix. Streaming services such as this rely on cloud computing in order to host content and provide it to an audience which is dispersed across the world, allowing for on-demand access which is not based on the traditionally rigid schedule structure of television broadcasts. Conversely, the cloud is actually helping the entertainment industry to produce content that might not normally be commissioned for TV, which is helping creativity to flourish and more businesses to become involved.
Conferencing technology has improved greatly thanks to cloud hosting services. While it used to be necessary to travel long distances to meet up with colleagues and clients, or suffer a low-quality and confusing multi-user call, you can now interact using A/V technology that makes it seem as if everyone is in the same room, even if they are on the other side of the world.
Since the cloud allows people to be more flexible, it also makes sense to harness its benefits via a portable device. Being shackled to a desk or confined to an office cubicle is no longer desirable and employees are instead looking to work with laptops, smartphones and tablets rather than a standard desktop PC. The prevalence of the cloud has helped to grow the sales of smartphones and tablets in particular, more than most people appreciate. For example, while the iPhone is an excellently designed piece of hardware, it would be nothing without the long list of cloud-powered services which brings it to life.
Commuting has been a tedious, time-consuming and ultimately unproductive reality for billions of people across the world ever since transport infrastructures developed to the point that you could live and work in two different places. With the growth in cloud computing, it is now possible to make better use of the time you spend commuting or even completely eradicate the daily commute from your schedule and work effectively without the need to travel into an office at all. The boundaries of the traditional workplace are crumbling and productivity is improving thanks to cloud computing.
Big Business Advantages
Larger organisations have generally been able to adopt and adapt to the latest advances in IT technology long before small and medium-sized enterprises. This competitive advantage has kept the big players on top and made growth difficult at the bottom of the ladder. However, the affordability of cloud computing and the access which it grants to high-end services such as data storage, backup and software hosting is helping to level the playing field.
This post was contributed by Hudson & Yorke.