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Tech News: Cloud computing offers convenience, file storage

May 3, 2012

By Roman Verzub

Today, cloud computing is all the rage in the tech world, especially for businesses.

Well-known companies like HP, Microsoft and Google compete with players lesser-known outside of the enterprise sphere like RedHat and VMWare to please customers and promote their cloud platforms as most flexible.

What is cloud computing, though?

Cloud computing is a kind of blanket term buzzword that refers to the running of software over a network, as opposed to on a local computer.

For example, instead of running Microsoft Word or LibreOffice Write, someone can “run” Google Docs or Microsoft’s Office Web Apps., which run over the Internet and save all files on someone else’s computers instead of one’s own.

Cloud computing can provide a level of convenience — no longer do you have to worry about emailing files back and forth or what computer you’re on and what software it has — as long as there’s a web browser; you’re all set.

But, it is not without its problems. Storing important files and programs on someone else’s computer means that you give up a certain level of control and privacy. Platforms can update, and you could be forced to figure them out all over again, or worse, cooperation between a cloud platform and a government body may mean unlawful access by the latter to data held by the former.

Still, cloud computing’s convenience seems to overtake these concerns, with millions choosing to check their email, host their files, type up important documents and run programs in “the cloud.”

One popular use, for example, is file storage.

Web sites like Dropbox and the recently-shut-down Megaupload offer the opportunity for users to store files safely and securely so that they can be accessed anywhere.

Dropbox provides, for example, applications for Windows, Mac and GNU/Linux, as well as the iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry mobile platforms.

Micorosft’s response to Dropbox came in 2007 with the release of SkyDrive. Supporting less platforms, though still including Windows, Mac, Windows Phone, and iOS, SkyDrive has been Dropbox’s main competitor.

That two-way competition, however, has widened, with the introduction of the Google Drive platform.

Currently compatible with Windows and Mac and Android on the mobile sphere, Google promises an increase in platform support.

Asked on the Google+ social network, Google employee Teresa Wu said for example that support for GNU/Linux is support is upcoming, and users should “hang tight.”

Google says it is planning to integrate Drive into Chrome OS, a notebook platform optimized for the Web and cloud computing, running on top of GNU/Linux.