Cloud computing has already changed the way individuals and businesses store and access their data in a big way. Storing data in the cloud frees up space on local computers and allows access from computers all over the world This allows for much more freedom and fluidity, but also presents some unique security challenges. Nevertheless, a majority of leading technology experts project that by the year 2020, cloud computing will have surpassed desktops in popular use. Most major social media sites are hosted in the cloud, as well as many popular email domains like Hotmail and Yahoo mail. Microblogging sites like WordPress and Twitter also appear there, as well as YouTube, Google Docs, Ebay, Flickr, and Yelp. With such a wide adoption already, it is clear that cloud computing is not going away anytime soon.
The Individual Cloud
Besides the services listed above, there are many more advantages to entice the individual into a life of cloud computing. Storing documents, photos, and music can free up space on personal computers and provide protection against untimely crashes. Many people use cloud storage services to backup their data as “insurance” in the event that their local storage is damaged or compromised. They can also benefit from the gradual shift that is happening from expensive software to free or cheap web-based services. Instead of buying expensive photo editing software for use on their individual computers, they may opt for services like Pixlr that come at a much more palatable price. It is also convenient to be able to access data on any of the user’s devices, as is the premise for services that let users watch their videos on their computer, phone, or any TV in the house and never lose their place.
The Cloud for Businesses
The advantages businesses stand to gain from adopting cloud technology are, in some ways, even greater than that of the individual. Using applications like Google Docs can allow several people to work seamlessly on the same project all at once, from wherever they are. This allows for greater efficiency on collaborative projects as well as greater flexibility to accommodate employees wishing to work from home. This greater ability for remote work can allow businesses to save money on office costs while still receiving the same quality of work.
All this is not to suggest that the desktop is being replaced, rather that it’s becoming part of a hybrid technology that embraces the best of both worlds. They will likely remain the primary workhorse, even in a world of lighter devices that offer increased convenience and portability at the price of computing power. Many experts predict that a more sophisticated marriage of the desktop and the cloud will develop, resulting in an individual computer that will be able to utilize the best features of the cloud with increased functionality, efficiency, and speed. Software is already rapidly adopting cloud technology, so it is reasonable to assume that hardware isn’t far behind.