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Cloud Computing ~ Jay Seo

Cloud computing. It’s an idea that – based on how it’s depicted in the current IT scene – you’d think could save the world. CEOs at the forefront of the computing industry tout it as the future, boldly proclaiming its arrival in the IT scene as the key to a revolutionary change in data management and a potential catalyst of a major, fundamental shift in technological history. If you didn’t understand a word of what I just wrote, don’t worry – you’re not alone.

Since it burst on to the IT scene in 2007 as part of a collaborative research project sponsored by Google and IBM, the term “cloud computing” has perhaps become one of the most overused and generalized phrases in the IT world. And yet, for all its recent presence in IT and computing, nobody seems to have any idea what it’s about. And nobody seems to be able to explain, in plain English, why it’s important.

What exactly is cloud computing? What is its significance? And most importantly, how does its emergence in the IT industry affect me? Cloud computing, in a very broad sense, refers to the shift from a locally driven, software and hardware-based computing environment to one where the Internet is the primary medium that is used to access applications and services. In other words, the applications you use aren’t located on your computer – they’re on the internet (“in the cloud”), where you can access them at any time and from anywhere.

Although cloud computing is in its early stages in terms of development and usage, its future benefits seem very obvious – because applications and services will be centralized on the Internet, IT professionals will no longer need to depend on expensive hardware and software solutions to get their work done.

But cloud computing doesn’t only benefit the company, nor does it only help by saving dollars; IT professionals, too, will have more opportunities and options. For example, the emergence of cloud computing could make the idea of a global market and workplace truly viable. IT professionals who are based in China could, for instance, apply for jobs at companies based in Vancouver – because applications, data, and services would all be centralized on the Internet, an individual would need only be familiar with the applications and tools that are used by that company in order to make a valuable contribution.

As well, the financial and cultural barriers that many individuals struggle with when accepting a new job somewhere else – for example, relocation costs, learning a new language, and adjusting to new expectations and demands – could largely be eliminated if cloud computing were developed to its full potential.

In short, the opportunities that would arise as a result of moving to the cloud would signal fundamental and positive changes in the way that IT industry conducts business, and that is a possibility that all of us should be very excited about.

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