Benefits From Cloud Computing
“God must love the common man, he made so many of them.”
– Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), legendary American President.
Three months back I had written an article on the benefits of cloud computing to various stakeholders, such as the Chief Information Officer (CIO), the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), the IT manager, the system designer, the environmentalist and the end consumer, or in other words, the common man (and woman) referred to by President Lincoln above (See: How Cloud Computing Affects Real People).
Today, I will elaborate more on the last stakeholder – the end consumer. Most of the articles on this website are directed towards the corporate customer, but this one is written with the domestic consumer in mind. Many of us, sitting at our homes, have been using cloud computing without being aware of it. This article can possibly help you expand our knowledge of getting more done through cloud computing.
First of all, what is this cloud computing service almost all domestic consumers use? If you answered “email”, you are right. Web-based email is by far the most popular service from the cloud computing world, and while most of them are available for free, there are paid feature-rich versions available as well. Take Gmail for example. While the vanilla product is free, there is also a paid version available as part of Google Apps Premier Edition, costing companies around $50 per user annually.
Therefore, as is clearly evident, one of the obvious advantages of cloud computing is getting fast and effective email for free. However, email is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are a power user of Google Apps, you already know what I am referring to. You can create spreadsheets and presentations as well, also for free. What’s more, you can easily share and collaborate on such files. Also, there are specialized services like SlideRocket that allow you enhanced features, also for free (See: VMware Acquires Cloud-based Presentation Provider SlideRocket ).
Thus, you don’t need to buy software like Microsoft Office to write your reports, prepare your presentations or manage your spreadsheets. You can do all this, and more, for free. Therefore, cloud computing gives you lower expenses.
Since I mentioned collaboration over the cloud, I have to mention the two most popular services in this category – Dropbox and Box.net. In fact, this website carried an article from the co-founder and CEO of the latter comparing it with Amazon’s cloud storage (See: Box.net, Amazon Cloud Drive – The Future of Cloud Storage and Sharing…). And obviously, even if your hard disk crashes, any files saved in the above will be safe and retrievable. Therefore, cloud computing gives you reliability.
Perhaps the second most popular cloud computing service enjoyed by end consumers are cloud-based photo-sharing services like Flickr and Picasa. There’s no easier way to share those holiday photographs with your mother located thousands of miles away than by uploading them to a cloud-based photo-sharing site and sending over the link by email. It’s definitely much faster than attaching them to an email (or most likely, multiple emails considering the sizes of high-resolution photos nowadays) and then sending them. Therefore, cloud computing gives you more time to do other things.
Nowadays, cloud computing is not restricted to documents, spreadsheets, presentations and photographs only – music and video is also part of the deal (See: Is Amazon’s Cloud Player A Game Changer in the Music Industry?).
Also, due to cloud computing, access to huge amounts of information is no longer restricted to your computer, but is possible with your phone (See: BlackBerry-maker RIM Ties Up with Microsoft for Cloud Storage) and even your car (See: Cars on the Cloud: Microsoft and Toyota Join Hands in Cloud Computing Space ). Therefore, cloud computing gives you mobility.
These are some of the ways in which the end user benefits from cloud computing.
By Sourya Biswas
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