Resolved: Cloud computing is the greatest thing since sliced bread!
Cloud computing takes advantage of underutilized resources like idle processors and unused storage space. Research and development of new technologies for larger storage and faster processing can take a back seat as much of these processes will take place off-site. This leaves consumers the potential to keep using their computer hardware for a longer period of time, since the rate at which it becomes outdated will slow.
Many, if not most, programs installed on computers are used very rarely, if at all. Software can be expensive to buy and becomes outdated quickly, with major revisions and upgrades being developed at least every few years, if not sooner. Using a cloud computing model, upgrades would occur at the server level, with little to no impact on the end user’s bottom line, while ensuring access to the most up-to-date software. This could translate to major cost savings for corporate users.
Services can be “scaled” according to the individual user’s or organization’s needs, resulting in less waste of resources. This will also result in greater degree of adaptability for the organization whose needs’ change very quickly. Instead of waiting to find an acceptable software package to buy and striking a deal, then having IT upgrade RAM and install the new software and work out kinks, cloud computing should be able to provide a solution in a fraction of the time and cost.
Cloud computing offers the ability to use software and access data from any computer or other internet capable device. Information can be easily shared and transferred to other users in real time in many cases. Collaboration can be done without emailing documents back and forth constantly. This provides greater ease of communication between users, and the ability to show another user what information you are trying to get across, while allowing them to revise and comment instantly.
Many users may not back up their data on a regular basis, leaving a single copy of important information. Cloud computing could provide data redundancy from the use of multiple servers and large-scale data backup operations.
Con: Get Real!
Widespread, reliable, and fast internet service is essential for cloud computing to work. Problems can and will occur when internet service is unreliable or unavailable. The internet is not currently available everywhere, so hard copies of your data and programs will be necessary for many operations to continue. If a hard copy of these will be necessary at any time, they will be necessary all the time. The alternative would be for the user to re-install all their software every time they are going somewhere without an internet connection.
Some people and small businesses either don’t like, don’t need, or don’t use the internet at all, even today. Some people even use paper and pens. This will leave non-users with a feeling that they are being pressured to embrace a technology that they are not comfortable with or have no need for.
A great amount of trust will need to be placed with an anonymous online entity. How can one be sure of who they are really dealing with? Depending on the nature and sensitivity of the data involved, some things may never be trusted to a cloud server, no matter how well known the provider is.
Security is of utmost importance. A hacker could potentially access all of your personal or business data online. Would it be possible for someone to install a virus or other malware onto a cloud service provider, and if so, how easily could it spread to all data stored throughout? Furthermore, will service providers have access to your personal data? This can potentially be used to target the user for ads and other marketing nuisances.
Compatibility with existing software formats and compatibility between cloud providers could be an issue. Also, cloud computing software is not as advanced as most “traditional” software packages that one would have to pay for and install on their computer. Compare the features of Google Docs to the Microsoft Office Suite, for example.
Users may have a problem of the intangible nature of online storage. There is some security knowing your data is in your hand, not floating through the ether somewhere. Many people are extremely reluctant to relinquish control of their personal lives to an outside force, no matter if it is more or less secure.