Now, when we look beneath the sales talk and big promises of
cloud computing and observe the shifts in trends in our computing
approaches, we start to realize that cloud computing is not just
another buzzword, but something that embodies this innate attempt
by humans to make computing easier. The evolution of computing
languages from the first generation (assembly languages) to the more
human-readable fourth-generation languages (4GLs, SQL), and the
evolution from structural/modular programming to object-oriented
programming are both earlier evidences of this trend.
Cloud computing’s focus is on empowering Internet users with the
ability to focus on value-adding activities and services and outsource
the worries of hardware upgrades and technical configurations to the
“experts residing” in the virtual cloud.
In today’s context, cloud computing loosely means that software
you use does not reside on your own computer, but rather on a host
computer, accessed via the Internet, run by someone else.
Given this fact, there are bound to be many problems and loopholes. Hence, it is not rare to find researchers claiming that they are
working in a research area that contributes to cloud computing. With
so much at stake, experts from computer security, service computing,
computer networking, software engineering and many other related
areas are crucial people in this turn of a new era.
If we are evolving into a cloud-oriented environment and way of doing
business, we will need to urgently address both data privacy and data
Researchers need to find the right balance between convenience and
security. It’s a balancing act: when convenience increases, security decreases, and vice versa. As cloud computing is a highly trust-based system, many researchers are now geared toward creating better trust evaluation mechanisms and authentication procedures, while the industry is
busy figuring out scalability solutions, data integrity, and security issues.
Once a hacker or malicious attack successfully penetrates the security boundaries of the cloud, or an employee of a cloud vendor betrays
the trust of the public, our data and critical information is at the complete mercy of these criminals. To further increase the security, we
would need legislation and laws to catch up with the nature of cloud
computing, as it will be a borderless and large-impact problem.
How Can Graduates Approach Cloud Computing?
The best way to approach this field is to have a good balance between
the quest of knowledge and discernment. Do not bounce on the latest
buzzwords you hear. Take a step back and try to see how things fit
together. A good way to do this is to organize and draw what you have
learned into mind maps. Crossroads has prepared a starter kit (see
sidebar), introducing some non-technical links to interesting articles
and videos to kickstart your journey.
While it is my greatest wish for you have a better understanding of
cloud computing through this article, I hope that I have also opened
up your mind to witnessing the increasing influence of cloud computing in our daily lives.
Ryan K. L. Ko is a final year PhD candidate at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, specializing in the semantic web and business
process management. He is also an editor for Crossroads.
Cloud Computing Starter Kit
While there are plenty of sites and articles describing cloud
computing, not many have an objective view of this high-potential but controversial topic. The following resources have
been selected by Crossroads’ editors in an attempt to help other
students understand the meaning, concerns, and latest trends
of cloud computing.
“Like it or not, cloud computing is the wave
of the future.”
By Therese Poletti, Market Watch.
A layman’s summary of the recent cloud computing trend.
“Microsoft to battle in the clouds.”
By Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC News.
See in particular the short video clip on Microsoft Azure in
this piece from the BBC.
“Storm warning for cloud computing.”
By Bill Thompson, BBC News.
Highlighting concerns surrounding cloud computing.
“Cloud computing is a trap, warns GNU founder
By Bobbie Johnson, Guardian.co.uk
Richard Stallman on why he’s against cloud computing.
“Click’s Favourite Cloud Links.”
From Click’s BBC News
See in particular G.ho.st, a global virtual computer hosting site.
“Dell attempts to copyright ‘cloud computing.’”
By Agam Shah, for IDG News Service,
published on Tech World
Just for fun, Dell tries to beat other computing companies to