Cloud Computing: Pervasive Impact Likely for Consumers

Information technology-using consumers are seeing a deluge of useful, fast-to-arrive applications.  Chatter about “app stores” and data charges in mobile wireless bills might lead us to think that smart phones and tablet computers explain the deluge.   That’s only half-right – phones and tablets are good consumer devices for delivering applications, but Cloud Computing plays an important role in the storage, computing, software, and content behind the application, and its role will grow . 

 

Cloud Computing allows entrepreneurs to roll out new services quicker and at lower cost than used to be the case.   For website operators, cloud computing is a change from owning to renting software and equipment.  That supports quick expansion, contraction, or change in the nature of what they do.  As renters, website operators face lower burdens in financing, purchasing, deployment and maintenance.  That allows for more focus on pleasing customers than on the engineering of service delivery.

 

There’s no sure-fire way for a consumer to know whether a specific service is provided under cloud computing or under a traditional “own-it” model.  As long as the product’s design follows established standards for networking and software, it can be launched through assorted providers of cloud computing elements, virtually anywhere.   Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and salesforce.com offer their own high quality systems as Cloud Computing suites to smaller applications providers.

 

In the near future, Cloud Computing is likely an ideal model for the scattered medical interventions over a person’s life and need for a comprehensive picture of that history by assorted (and authorized) medical people.  Storage and delivery of courseware and grade results is another example of a suitable Cloud Computing application.

 

Personal health and educational records require solid security, privacy and owner-control.   While there are generally good standards for privacy and security available, Cloud Computing needs to address international legal differences and uncertainties that abound.  For instance, if a U.S.-based Cloud Computing vendor stores your files on a Danish server, does that government have the right to subpoena your files?  

 

Already Cloud Computing has accelerated the arrival of many applications and is poised to play a bigger role going forward.  But establishing an acceptable common legal framework will help the cloud computing industry really thrive.

 

Alan Daley is a retired businessman living in South Carolina.  He follows information technology from the consumer’s perspective. 

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