Cloud Computing. What Can it Do for You?
You may have heard of the term “cloud computing,” and wondering what it is. “Cloud” computing or computing online is a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the internet. Most common is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) like the applications offered by Google (Google Apps), Microsoft (Office Web Apps), and Zoho.com. The name “cloud computing” was inspired by the cloud symbol that's often used to represent the internet in flow chart diagrams.
With cloud computing, productivity and business programs (word processing, email, spreadsheets, databases, web design, and more) that you want to use are offered over the internet by a service provider. e.g. Google, Microsoft, Zoho, etc. You do not have to buy any of the applications or install any software onto your computer. This can be a huge cost savings and having all programs located in one central location can be a great time saver.
Working online to create your personal and business documents may take a little getting used to but after using the apps for just a short while you’ll begin see the benefits. For example, using Google Apps, I created this article with Google Docs while being able to answer e-mails and perform other online tasks simultaneously.
Google Apps has many great features including Google Sites which allows you to create a professional website absolutely free of charge–including the hosting. When this article was written we used Google Sites for the ASPA Membership Screen Printing Association Directory. Google Sites has an vast number of features. There is no sensible reason for not having a website when a great (and free) application like it is being offered.
Another cloud computing site, Zoho.com offers similar features to Google Apps including the ability to create a Wikisite for colloborating with others who can provide and edit content on the site. Like Google Apps, Zoho is free (for personal use).
Lastly for those folks who are fans of Microsoft, there is Office Web Apps. It has been coupled with Microsoft’s Sky Drive (very useful for storing large files) and incorporates the use of Microsoft’s popular Office program.
There are many reasons to consider using cloud computing for your individual or small business needs. Cloud computing is most likely going to continue to expand into areas like graphics editing and other useful applications. As long time users, we highly recommend cloud computing.