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Best Cloud Computing Apps You’ve Never Heard Of

Best Cloud Computing Apps You’ve Never Heard Of

This article’s title may arguably mislead you. Cloud connoisseurs will express familiarity with one app featured here. And even your grandmother has heard of yet another. But no matter where you are in your grasp of cloud computing, you should find something new here to inspire you – maybe even warm your heart.

Amanda/Zmanda.
Let’s start with its name: we can’t think of any other app whose title arrested our attention as quickly as this did. Maybe it’s the A-through-Z allusion therein, or its gentle rhyme: whatever the source of its attraction may be, Amanda/Zmanda is an app to be familiar with. Cloud newbies might not recognize that it’s “the most popular open source backup and recovery software in the world,” according to its website. It actually helps to think of it as two programs in one. “Amanda” is short for “Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver;” it actually does the backing up. “Zmanda” supports its sister program with enterprise functions, and it also works in tandem with Amazon Web Services. There you have it. Now you’re set to namedrop Amanda/Zmanda at a cloud cocktail party, worry-free.

Orca Screen Reader.
This is where cloud computing does some real justice for humanity. To begin, you must remember how hostile computers can be for those who cannot see, type, or hear. The virtual experience for those challenged in such ways has improved, but not enough as of yet. Orca Screen Reader, the “Free Willy” of the open-source cloud app world, empowers the handi-capable. It amazingly converts Braille literature into a computerized format, so that a person who reads in the language can use the Web just as she’d flip through a Braille book. Orca also wields voice technology, converting text to speech in malleable ways (a user can choose a male or female voice, or alter its pitch). IT World has more.

Gmail.
In a word: duh! Of course you’ve heard of Gmail. Odds are that you indeed you the mega-hit e-mail platform. What you may not know is that Google Mail actually ranks as a cloud computing app. But when you really think about it, Gmail as a cloud makes perfect sense. All of your e-mails are stored in an impossibly large remote server (as of today, our own has swelled to 7647MB of space!); you can access GMail everywhere, even on your mobile phone; and you can communicate with anyone signed in, via GChat or their phone. For us, this was a mind-blowing yet true revelation. Yet we’re not alone in our adulation. The City of Los Angeles is hitching up to Gmail’s cloud. And Google’s blog is tooting its own horn, as it proves how Gmail in the cloud might slow down global warming.

By Jeff Norman

About Jeff Norman

Jeff Norman is a freelance writer currently based in New York City. He's moved into writing about cloud computing from substantial work in culture and the arts. He earned his undergraduate degree in English at Stanford and has studied at Oxford and Cambridge.

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