With the advent of smartphones and tablets, people have now found a way to be online virtually everywhere they go. In addition to this, more and more people have found that they are running out of space on their devices and computers, as their data and information files are getting denser and greater in number. One of the most advanced means to counter this issue has been found in the form of cloud computing, and this is undoubtedly where the future is headed.
Giants in the electronic devices industry are now resorting to providing cloud storage for their users, and more and more people are now accepting this as the means of storage they use by choice.
The Concept of Cloud Storage
Until now, we have been storing our data on external devices like hard drives, thumb drives, compact discs, etc. In order to access the data on these devices we need to access the device itself, so it is important to have physical access to them. Moreover, the space that is available on these devices is limited, and sooner or later, it runs out. Cloud storage is the answer to these issues, and it is simply a means of data storage that takes place over the Internet, or the cloud.
What this means is that an individual can store data on the cloud, as long as he has Internet access, from anywhere around the world, and then access this same data from any other place without the need to carry around any peripheral devices with him. He can sync his cloud to the various devices that he uses, or he can even access it from someone else's device if need be.
This grants a high level of flexibility and access that can prove valuable. It negates the need for external devices, and this is what makes cloud storage so special. Moreover, size limitations are no longer an issue, as an individual can store large gigs of data on the cloud, and still find them exactly as he left them the last time he accessed the cloud.
There are certain security risks involved here though, so it is highly advised that an individual should not store sensitive and confidential data here. While cloud computing is a revolution, there are several risk factors that users must be prepared for. The client who provides cloud storage ultimately controls the data on it, so you are effectively at their mercy, and this could have serious consequences. So one needs to be wary of such services, but this does not undermine their efficiency in any way.
Top Cloud Computing Companies to Watch
What some of the top companies achieve with this technology remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that cloud computing is already catching on in a big way. Here are some of the major players in this market, and a peek into what they provide.
Google has been the pioneer in this field, and it has raised the popularity of cloud computing by leaps and bounds. There are several Google apps that provide features like working with spreadsheets and word editors (Google Docs), online web albums (Picasa), web blogging sites, social networking sites, AdWords, email synchronization, video chatting, gigs of storage space, online music streaming and round the clock support. These apps can be used by individuals, or by businesses or by educational institutes as well.
Amazon is definitely one of the leaders in providing web-based services as well, and there are several features that they provide. Amazon has virtually become synonymous with cloud computing, since they released their Elastic Computer Cloud in 2006, well before anyone else did. They effectively provide storage facilities, computing services, online content delivery, cross-device communications and web-based database services as well.
The techworld giants could not stay away from this service, and inevitably they started offering many great features as well. Their highlight is Azure, a platform that offers Windows-as-a-service and allows users to develop and build several web-based applications. It is no surprise that Microsoft has shifted its focus to this realm, but it is still a relatively new player here, and needs some more time. Various business services like Exchange, Office Communications Servers, Live Meetings and CRM are also offered by Microsoft.
There are some other companies as well that focus on very specialized and business oriented needs, and they are the ones who provide the support structure for this industry. SalesForce is a company that uses cloud computing techniques to enhance their CRM tools which are equipped for marketing companies. Cell phone service providers like AT&T and Verizon also offer cloud computing features for their users, and these are used to provide billing facilities, connectivity troubleshooting, and of course, on demand storage.
GoGrid is another famous company that provides a platform for deploying virtual servers which make use of PHP, Apache and other languages. Some companies like RackSpace and NetSuite focus solely on cloud based ERP and CRM tools, so they are also some names to look out for.
Each of these companies definitely have a head start in the cloud computing world, and their future offerings are sure to heavily influence the computing world as well. So they are worth paying close attention to, because their next product could suddenly revolutionize the entire technological world.