Week 8 Wrap-up: Meteorology in Computing
The goal for this week was to critically examine and evaluate the cloud computing market. We felt that whether you were contemplating adopting cloud storage or a cloud application for a business or school district, as an EVA, the topics presented this week would help you make an informed decision. With your help, we highlighted the positives and negatives surrounding cloud computing and shared our experience with programs we already use in our daily lives. When sharing these programs with each other, it was our hope for you to realize that most of you use cloud computing on a daily bases without even knowing it.
As we were curious to see what you felt were the benefits to converting a company or school district over to cloud computing, we asked you just that, and this is where the discussion took us:
Access to files on any device, allowing for more flexibility. This benefits both students and teachers as either can have access to information anytime and anywhere. Students have more opportunity to participate in self-paced learning and access material outside of the classroom, and teachers have the flexibility to access school material and marking outside the school facility. It also offers both students and teachers multiple ways to save, organize, share, and access data.
Reduces storage on your own device. With easy access to material on multiple devices, cloud computing also reduces the energy usage for users as there is no need for students and teachers to carry their data on USB sticks, external drives or laptops. Cloud computing providers also have much more space in the clouds than most users can carry with them and it is simple to increase storage capacity.
Ability to work collaboratively and simultaneously on files even from different locations. Cloud computing also allows for knowledge-building, as students can see their work and that of other students’ work from previous years and build upon the existing information.
Easy access to a wide variety of applications and software. Everything that you need to create a presentation, such as fonts, images, etc. already exists in different cloud applications and is mostly free of charge. Sometimes all you need to do is sign up; making it extremely useful for those students and teachers who cannot afford to purchase expensive desktop applications.
Cost savings. Cost decreases as there is no need for the fastest computer with the largest amount of memory or to continuously be upgrading software. Cost benefits can dramatically assist a company or school district as they can use the money they save and put it towards other specific needs and other areas that would benefit their students.
Go green. Companies can ‘go green’ as “cloud computing can reduce a business’s carbon emissions by as much as 30%” (Arno, 2011, para. 11). Going green also applies to companies and school districts saving money through purchasing equipment storage, operations and reducing the amount of paper used.
Autosave is our friend. It is extremely easy to forget to save, while “in a brilliant moment” while writing a paper or completing an assignment and if your computer crashes or the Internet goes down, most of the time it means you’ve lost your data. Most cloud computing applications autosave every few seconds and there’s no need to worry about losing everything.
Personal concerns. We also addressed our own personal concerns and reservations towards cloud computing and in some cases our colleagues were able to demonstrate how cloud computing providers are working to improve on these concerns. The major concerns that were brought up throughout the week were that of servers crashing, flexiblity, security, and privacy. Cloud computing companies have come a long way in the past 50 years. The failure or unreliability of servers, which was historically a common problem, is not nearly as frequent an issue in today’s world as data infrastructure is stabilized with technologies like Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID), Network-Attached Storage (NAS) and redundant backups.
Concerns are quickly addressed. Cloud providers are always trying to improve their services and with technology shifting and changing so quickly, what was once a concern a year ago or even that of two months ago could already be considered outdated. For instance, Google has implemented a second level of security for users.
Individuals now have the option of getting a security code sent via text message to their mobile phone whenever they log into their account. Cloud computing companies have also become more flexible in trying to meet the needs of their users, with the ability to create customized packages.
Internet access speed. Quality of Internet access is quite variable. Aspects such as speed, cost and latency must be addressed when considering a cloud solution. The major disadvantage surrounding cloud computing is that the user must be able to access the Internet and have both fast upload and download speeds. Internet access at home usually has excellent download speeds but very slow upload speeds. While at work this is usually not an issue for most people, but it can be problematic when travailing to and from work via public transportation or even traveling on holiday. Internet access can be quite costly when trying to access cloud computing data using your mobile device and although it might be more convenient (i.e. mobile phone or tablet vs. laptop) to store your data in the cloud, it could quickly become a hindrance if you have limited or no Internet access. However, this is really less of a cloud computing issue and more of an Internet provider issue as it wouldn’t make a difference if you wanted to access papers through the school web interface or send a simple email to a family member. Without any Internet access, your only option is to wait.
The Week 8 Team: