It was for about 6 years ago when I worked as an on-site consultant for a large Multi National Oil Company that I saw the implementation of what we call it ‘cloud’ computing today, well maybe not quite the same in the sense of nearly-anywhere-availability. At that time I was enabled to use any computer in the company domain using my temporary credentials and auto magically all of my settings and documents will be there. My bookmarks and browser settings were there, all of my working documents are on “My Documents” folder ready to be updated.
It was later I found out that all my documents are stored in a Storage Attached Network (SAN), and every time I logged into an computer, automatically my roaming profiles will be in effect thus mounting my personalized details such as my personal registries and documents to that computer. It was one of it’s kind, not many companies doing that at that time and I must admit that it was very convenient that I can logged in to any computer and do my works without having to carry my documents around. However, this implementation did not take what cloud computing are offers today. The modern implementation is beyond that.
Nowadays, cloud computing is very popular. Many companies are doing it such as Amazon (S3), Google (Google apps, Google docs), Microsoft (Azure) to name a few. What they are doing is to take the applications and documents in the clouds. Take google docs for example, this implementation is for personal or companies who doesn’t need a full blown office applications or their workers are highly mobile. Each of the team member or person can logged in into their google accounts and create/modify regular office documents. These application and documents are virtually available on the ‘clouds’ long as there is internet connection and a browser. Furthermore, the documents can be shared among the team members in an easy way. As for me, I also find it convenient using Google Docs to create and edit some of my personal documents.
For storage purpose, I choose Dropbox with it’s free 2 Gigabytes of storage (it’s a pay service for more than that). I found it easy for me to store documents that will be edited across desktop and portable computers in my household. The clients are also available on Linux, Mac OSX and iDevices. So every time needed, I can logged in to any of the devices and edit the documents as if it’s in my local storage and automatically sync into dropbox’s cloud storage. It also has a handy document revision features, i.e. it will create two copy of the documents versions created in two device at once.
The popularity of cloud model is also applied to web services. Google generously offers their system to be a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for commonly used AJAX libraries. This site of mine is also use Google as the jQuery library CDN. The reason behind this is because jQuery library is a common and famous library and it can speed up things up if it is served from a site as Google servers, it also promote caching too from the user’s browser point of view. The other thing of this site cloud implementation is image storage, it uses google picasa storage as you may notice if you carefully inspecting the images URLs. Some moving further to use dropbox as a full CDN for their wordpress’s theme files, thus offloading precious hosting storage for other use.
I am not surprised if in the future this model will replace locally stored documents and applications. Local harddisk is notoriously easy to fail since it uses moving parts, while the Solid Disk Drive is expensive. Internet speed are picking up and transferring megabytes of data through the internet is nolonger a luxulury. Meanwhile, I slowly change all my computing behavior to the cloud. Cloudify Me.