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Clouds aren’t necessarily a sign of bad weather

Cloud computing has went from for the niche to mainstream writes
Cloud computing has went from the niche to mainstream, writes Jordan News columnist Jean-Claude Elias (Photo: Pixabay)
It is one of the aspects of the digital revolution and global networking. And it has been invigorated a little — make that significantly — by COVID-19 and the need to do everything remotely. We are talking about the cloud here; the digital one.اضافة اعلان

It is believed that the cloud buzzword was first used circa 2006 by computer techies working for Amazon.

What is the status of the technology and how “cloudy” have we become? Perhaps more importantly what is next?

Initially, two aspects of the concept made people reluctant to “go into the cloud”, “move to the cloud”,  “use cloud computing”, (depending on which is your favorite expression). 

The first, obviously, was trust: How can I trust other people or other servers with my personal data? Isn’t it safer to keep it stored on my local hard disk? As we know, things have changed. Several factors have come to sweep away this hindrance.

Whereas there will never be a thing such as 100 percent data security, storing your personal files and photos on your local disk is not safer than storing them in the cloud, and this for a simple reason: all digital devices live and run connected to the web — from the smallest smartphone to the largest server. This means that whether kept on your local computer’s hard disk or in the cloud, the risk to your data is practically the same. In the cloud, however, it is well maintained, backed up automatically and remains at your fingertips, available for you from any device in the world.

Legislation has also come to the rescue. In addition to promises of protecting data with technical means such as encryption and the like, laws are being regularly updated and promulgated to ensure privacy and confidentiality. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European set of well-defined laws that provide just that.

Except in very rare, extremely limited and special cases, working offline is not an option anymore. Your operating system and your anti-virus software will stop receiving. Virtually none your applications will function anymore. If some were still hesitant to trust the cloud with their data until about 10 years ago, those days are gone now. It suffices to see the global acceptance and huge success of Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, and other similar cloud storage services.

The second aspect is about doing more in the cloud than just storing data. This really is what makes a significant difference. Today the digital cloud is well beyond data storage, it is more about comprehensive cloud computing. It is a whole world where your computer is but a window open on the web that lets you operate every single application in the cloud, using data that also is stored there. The only software that is be installed on your device is the one that lets you start it and then access the cloud — nothing else.

This major change is hardly limited to personal computing. It has reached corporate computers. For the past five years or so, virtual servers have been the trend. Usually, companies do not buy physical servers but subscribe to what is now referred to as web services that do exactly what a local machine does, but remotely, by connecting to a server in the cloud, with all software and functionalities still there.

Among the most popular such services abroad is Amazon Web Services (AWS). You shouldn’t expect anything less from the giant! Several entities in Jordan have subscribed to it. In the country, Specialized Technical Services (STS) offer cloud services where your data is physically stored on computers located in a large, high-tech data center in Amman.

Cloud servers relieve companies of the burden of operating and maintaining complex and expensive equipment and server rooms. Subscribing to cloud servers is a confirmed trend and most businesses are going for it.

Does that make them more dependent on remote services and on the global network? Absolutely. Just as much as we are all dependent on electric power. There is simply no going back. When they stop everything stops.

Therefore, the next step would be for major players, like Amazon for example, to provide redundancy and to ensure a level of network availability and cloud service uptime so high that it would make a major cloud outage as rare, and hopefully rarer, than a major power outage.

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