Monday, January 02, 2012

CLOUD COMPUTING: Introduction to Cloud Computing


Introduction to Cloud Computing: Cloud Computing provides several Internet services (Internet software programs) to the home, small and medium businesses and to large corporations. For my first article about Cloud Computing I will discuss it mostly in reference to the home user using easy to understand non-technical definitions and examples. Using Cloud Computing services at home can help you to understand and use them more efficiently at your work place. Cloud Computing has existed for a long time and its services have increased considerably, especially during the last couple of years. During 2012, the use of Cloud Computing services at home and at work will increase even more, so you need to learn about and understand its services. Today the term 'Internet' is often replaced with the term 'Cloud Computing'.


*Basic definition of Cloud Computing: Although it has several definitions, basically it is Internet software programs that you access and use with an Internet browser. Some examples of Cloud Computing Internet software programs include Twitter, Facebook, Google's Gmail, Google Talk, Google Documents, etcetera. Cloud Computing software is provided to you, on the Internet, by a Cloud Computing service provider such as Amazon, Apple, Google, or Microsoft. I will use the Google Chrome browser and its Google Documents Cloud program to explain and demonstrate Cloud Computing.


*How to use Cloud Computing: Because Cloud Computing programs are Internet software, not computer software, you do not need to install any computer software or any computer hardware. To use Cloud software programs (services) all you need is your Internet connection, a browser, and to sign-up via the Internet for Cloud software programs through a Cloud Computing service provider such as Google.


*Basic Features of Cloud Computing Services (1 to 6):


(1) Cloud Web Apps (aka. Cloud Internet Web applications or Cloud Internet software programs). Some examples of Cloud Web Apps are: Twitter, Facebook, Google's Gmail, Google Talk, Google Documents, etcetera. When you use a Web App, Google Documents for example, it doesn't use up any of your computer's memory and it is not stored on your hard disk drive space because the Google Documents program (is not running on your computer) it is an Internet program running inside of your browser on the Internet (in the Cloud). And, your Google Documents are not saved and stored on your computer's hard disk drive, instead they are saved and stored on the Internet on Google's Computer Cloud servers.


Cloud Web Apps are safer to use then downloaded computer software programs that can be infected by a virus, malware or spyware. Another point that makes using Web Apps safer is the fact that all of your Cloud Web Apps data is saved and stored on the Internet so if you have a hard drive failure your data is not lost.


Cloud Web Apps are more convenient because any Internet files (Google Documents files, for example) that you created can be accessed on the Internet at any time from any where in the world on any Internet enabled device such as someone else's computer, your mobile phone, iPod, etcetera. If your computer crashes you can still access your Cloud data on another Internet enabled device since your Cloud data is saved on the Internet. In contrast, if you have a Word Processing document computer software program, that you downloaded and/or installed via dvd on to your computer, when you create a document with it the document is saved and store on your computer's hard disk drive. You can only access this document on your computer since it is on your computer only (it can not be accessed on another computer) and it is not on the Internet. Google Documents is a Cloud (Internet) program, on the Internet, and is not downloaded and installed.


(2) Cloud File sharing (peer-to-peer, aka. P2P): Cloud programs allow you to share your personal files such as photos, videos, documents, and music with others on the Internet. You can also upload personal files that you have saved on your computer's hard disk drive in to your Cloud program to be saved and shared on the Internet.


(3) Cloud File collaboration: Another part of Cloud file sharing that allows you to view, share and edit documents, such as Google Documents, with others at the same time (in real-time) on the Internet.


(4) Cloud File Syncing and Syncing Cloud Programs: Synchronization is a browser feature that allows you to save and sync your browser settings such as bookmarks, history, preferences, extensions and apps so that you can access them on any other Internet enabled devices. Using Google's Chrome browser as an  example, you can sync your browser settings using your laptop then load Chrome and sign-in to your Google account using your mobile phone and you will see that all of your Chrome Settings that you saved and synced using your laptop are now also accessible on your mobile.

The Google Chrome browser also allows you to connect (sync) your other programs such as Twitter and Facebook to your Google Account. I use Chrome and have connected my Twitter and Facebook account to my Google account and now my username for all of them is the same username as the one I use for my Google Account and my Gmail (Google mail address). Syncing browser settings and connecting (syncing) Cloud type programs all to your Google Account enables faster and easier Internet device access to them and sharing of your Cloud data with others.


(5) Cloud File Backup and Storage: All of your Cloud data on the Internet, such as Google Documents, photos, videos, and music is saved, backedup and stored on the Internet on your Cloud service provider's servers not on your computer's hard disk drive. HDD's can get virus-infected, malfunction or fail causing data loss so Cloud Computing file backup and storage is a much safer way to protect your data.


(6) Cloud Privacy and Security: Today we have browsers that are much more secure from identity theft, phishing, and malware. In fact, the Google Chrome browser has been named the most secure browser, and security is of the utmost importance when you are using Internet Cloud Computing services. I also recommend using a free and very reliable program called WOT (aka. Web Of Trust) at this link: www.mywot.com. The WOT program places a green circle beside all trustworthy links when you search for sites and beside all of the links inside of an e-mail and your Twitter shortened URL's. WOT also alerts you when links are not safe.

As for Cloud (Internet) privacy many of today's browsers, Google Chrome for one, allow you to set your own Privacy Preferences settings. And, the Google Chrome browser has an added security feature to help protect your Cloud (Internet) data called 2-step verification and you can sign-up for it, using your Google account username and password, at this link: https://accounts.google.com/SmsAuthConfig. Please read about it at this link: http://support.google.com/accounts/bin/static.py?hl=en&page=guide.cs&guide=1056283 before setting up verification. Once you do set it up you will sign-in to your Google account with your username, password and a verification code.


NOTE: CLOUD COMPUTING. My second article provides step-by-step instructions demonstrating the Basic features of Cloud Computing Services: Sharing and Collaboration using Google's Chrome Browser and the Google Documents program (a Cloud, aka. Internet software program) at this link: 
http://pamelaparr49.blogspot.com/2012/01/cloud-computing-part-2-cloud-sharing.html. Later articles will cover Cloud: *Syncing and Connecting *Backup and Storage *Cloud Privacy and Security.


NOTE: You can also contact me with any of your computer related questions via my cnet.com profile at this link: www.cnet.com/profile/pamjparr/, then just click on: E-mail Pamela j.








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