cloud computing and
For a growing number of organizations worldwide, cloud computing
offers a quick and affordable way to tap into IT infrastructure as an
Internet service. But obstacles and challenges remain.
OVer The LasT couple of years, cloud computing has taken the business world by storm. The idea of storing and managing
data on virtualized servers—often
residing on the Internet—isn’t particularly new. But thanks to ongoing
advances in IT infrastructure and far
more sophisticated applications, individuals and organizations around
the world now have the ability to connect to data and computing resources
anywhere and anytime.
It’s a trend with enormous implica-
tions. “Cloud computing provides ac-
cess to large-scale remote resources
in a very efficient and quick manner,”
explains Karsten Schwan, director of
the Center for Experimental Research
in Computing Systems at Georgia
Tech University. “It has the potential
to dramatically change business mod-
els and the way people interact with
Nowhere is this more obvious than
in developing nations, where the abil-
ity to access resources has often been
limited and building out a robust
IT infrastructure can be daunting.
The emergence of cloud computing
changes the stakes for entrepreneurs,
small and large businesses, research-
ers, and governments. “It has the
potential to level the playing field be-
cause it breaks down barriers to en-
try,” says Steve Bratt, CEO of the non-
profit World Wide Web Foundation.
a Paradigm shift?
Although cloud computing has become something of a buzzword over
the last couple of years, it’s unwise to
dismiss it as the latest overhyped tech
trend. “It has the potential to create a
paradigm shift in the way IT resources
are used and distributed,” says P.K.
Sinha, chief coordinator for research
and development at the Center for Development of Advanced Computing at
Pune University in India.
Clouds provide a powerful—and
often otherwise unattainable—IT infrastructure at a modest cost. In addition, they free individuals and small
businesses from worries about quick
obsolescence and a lack of flexibility.
Yet, at the same time, large organizations can consolidate their IT infrastructure across distributed locations,
Sinha points out. Even government
entities can benefit by enabling services to consumers on a shared basis.
In some cases, cloud-based computing grids enable research that simply
wasn’t possible in the past.
These days, clouds enable a wide
range of services. Already, several industry behemoths—including Amazon, Google, and Microsoft—have
introduced cloud-based commercial
services. In addition, IBM has established cloud computing centers in
Beijing, China; Bangalore, India; Hanoi, Vietnam; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and
Seoul, South Korea.
PhotograPh by erik hersman
in Kenya, Wilfred mworia, left, created an iPhone application using only an online iPhone
simulator and steve mutinda made an ushahidi application for Java-enabled mobile phones.