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Web Clicks : Getting Our Imaging Heads in the Cloud

Helping Your Customers Understand the Benefits of the Cloud

August 2011 By Michael McEnaney
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While just about everyone has heard of “the cloud” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing) by now, the percentage of people who actually know what it is and understand how they can use it is still relatively small.
According to a recent report from market researcher Ipsos OTX (ipsos-na.com/), only 40% of Americans understand cloud services and fewer than 9% are actually using such services.
Despite such pedestrian numbers, Apple and Google continue to ramp up their visions of cloud-based media services with the hope that consumers will catch up with the technology (as they often do). Indeed, Forrester Research forecasts the U.S. market for personal cloud services will hit $12 billion and 196 million consumers by 2016, so Apple and Google certainly aren’t proceeding on a wing and a prayer.
So then, seeing as there appears to be a potentially explosive future in cloud-based storage services, here’s an interesting question: What is the cloud?
Truth be told, the term is just another in the seemingly endless line of buzzwords that come in and out of our digital lives these days. The concept is nothing new, as the cloud is actually as old as the Internet itself and is essentially about accessing content remotely from a variety of devices via the Internet.
Long Island, New York-based IT expert Mike Galke of Spectrum Computing Consulting used Web mail as the simplest explanation for everyday use of the cloud. “Web mail is a great example of a way consumers have already been using the cloud before the term emerged,” Galke explained. “Web mail services like Gmail or Hotmail are considered ‘in the cloud’ because people are accessing them from multiple devices through basic Internet access, whereas a POP mail account is accessed and downloaded to a single computer and can be erased from a server once you get it.”
He added that cloud computing is best described as any application or service that is hosted and run on servers connected to the Internet that we (consumers) do not have to maintain or support in any way.
Perhaps the example that will resonate best with the average consumer is simply looking at Facebook as a cloud company. All of those photos, videos and pithy comments you’ve been uploading to FB are hosted on the social network’s cloud—a huge data center that has no actual connection to your smartphone or PC.
 

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