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Personal computing demystified
Processing information: inside the PC -- Storing information: disks, discs, and flash -- Getting information in: input -- Getting information out: output -- pt. Windows and file management. Working with Windows -- Working with files -- pt. Buying and using a PC. Buying issues and considerations -- What and where to buy -- Supplies, services, and accessories -- Installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting -- pt. The Internet. Internet basics: going online -- Internet applications: cruising the Internet -- Internet security: protecting your PC -- pt.
And at this stage the smart thing for you to do is probably to rebuild your own internal IT around a cloud architecture because the public cloud isn't of a scale at this point and of a reliability and everything where GE could say 'we're closing down all our data centers and moving to the cloud. You might say software-as-a-service kicked off the whole push toward cloud computing by demonstrating that IT services could be easily made available over the Web.
While SaaS vendors originally did not use the word cloud to describe their offerings, analysts now consider SaaS to be one of several subsets of the cloud computing market. Public cloud services are breaking down into three broad categories: software-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, and platform-as-a-service. SaaS is well known and consists of software applications delivered over the Web. Infrastructure-as-a-service refers to remotely accessible server and storage capacity, while platform-as-a-service is a compute-and-software platform that lets developers build and deploy Web applications on a hosted infrastructure.
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SaaS vendors have long boasted of selling software on a pay-as-you-go, as-needed basis, preventing the kind of lock-in inherent in long-term licensing deals for on-premises software. Cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon are doing the same. For example, Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud charges for per-hour usage of virtualized server capacity. Storage clouds are priced similarly. Nirvanix's cloud storage platform has prices starting at 25 cents per gigabyte of storage each month, with additional charges for each upload and download.
What types of applications can run in the cloud? Technically, you can put any application in the cloud. But that doesn't mean it's a good idea. For example, there's little reason to run a desktop disk defragmentation or systems analysis tool in the cloud, because you want the application sitting on the desktop, dedicated to the system with little to no latency, says Pund-IT analyst Charles King.
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More importantly, regulatory and compliance concerns prevent enterprises from putting certain applications in the cloud, particularly those involving sensitive customer data. IDC surveys show the top uses of the cloud as being IT management, collaboration, personal and business applications, application development and deployment, and server and storage capacity. Can applications move from one cloud to another?
Yes, but that doesn't mean it will be easy. Services have popped up to move applications from one cloud platform to another such as from Amazon to GoGrid and from internal data centers to the cloud.
But going forward, cloud vendors will have to adopt standards-based technologies in order to ensure true interoperability, according to several industry groups. The recently released "Open Cloud Manifesto" supports interoperability of data and applications, while the Open Cloud Consortium is promoting open frameworks that will let clouds operated by different entities work seamlessly together.
The goal is to move applications from one cloud to another without having to rewrite them. How does traditional software licensing apply in the cloud world? Vendors and customers alike are struggling with the question of how software licensing policies should be adapted to the cloud.
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This model does not take advantage of the flexibility of cloud services. Oracle and IBM have devised equivalency tables that explain how their software is licensed for the Amazon cloud, but most observers seem to agree that software vendors haven't done enough to adapt their licensing to the cloud.
The financial services company ING, which is examining many cloud services, has cited licensing as its biggest concern. Amazon EC2 promises to make "commercially reasonable efforts" to ensure But uptime is calculated on a yearly basis, so if Amazon falls below that percentage for just a week or a month, there's no penalty or service credit. But as any lawyer points out, you have to pay attention to the legalese.