Cloud computing is the buzzword for today. More and more companies of all kinds are turning to the cloud as a way of storing and sharing valuable data. Cloud storage is convenient for two major reasons: The person using them does not need to know how the system operates, and—more importantly—it saves valuable memory space on the hard drive. Members of a company staff can also share data on the go by mobile phone. Below is a description of some of the cloud services that no company can afford to be without.
Dropbox, initially released in 2008, is a file-sharing service that synchronizes the folders created by each user on his own computer so that they appear as a single folder. Two gigabytes are provided free; beyond that, the user has to pay $9.99 per month for fifty GB, or $19.99 per month for a hundred. Dropbox can also be synchronized with Google Docs (another cloud service; see below). A number of add-ons, both official and unofficial, have been initialized by the Dropbox community to perform additional tasks—SendToDropbox, for instance, makes it possible to synch the files with one’s email account. (Incidentally, one of the service’s co-founders, Drew Houston, got the idea for it when he kept forgetting to bring his USB flash drive during his days at MIT!) Both the New York Times and PC Magazine have praised Dropbox because it is so easy to use.
Salesforce.com is a suite the comprises several cloud applications. Founded in 1999, it has acquired several other companies over the past seven years, including GroupSwim, Instranet, Navajo Security and Thinkfuse. The cloud applications that:
- Sales Cloud—“your complete toolkit for sales success;” enables the business person to use social media websites to sell things to more people more effectively, organize marketing campaigns, use the “drag and drop” techniques of Visual Workflow to set up business processes and get information about the deals on which the employees are currently working
- Salesforce Platform—for creating apps for employees; includes Heroku for designing applications in any computer language, DataBase for secure storage and sharing, Salesforce Identity for delivering “identity and access management” of all apps, both cloud and mobile, and AppExchange where the user can find apps and solution for every department in the company
- Marketing Cloud—“the world’s only unified social marketing suite;” this application is for “listening” to customers’ online conversations and use them to make marketing decisions, deploying social content to them on their PCs and mobile phones, building communities of advocates and much more
“No hardware. No software. No headaches” is the company’s motto—and they do everything in their power to live up to it.
Google has created a whole range of apps for cloud storage, including Gmail and Docs, now called Drive. Other app that can be downloaded from Google’s store, either for free or for a price, include the “social help desk” Desk.com for supporting customers through email and social networking; the email-tracking service Yesmail; and MailChimp for managing subscriber lists and delivering e-newsletters to customers.
Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
EC2, delivered by Amazon, is probably the best known cloud service currently offered. It can be used by customers to rent computers, either for the sake of additional bandwidth or as a substitute for their personal infrastructures, and set up their own applications. Block storage, in which data is stored in the form of a series of bytes, is also available.
The name of this tree that grows natively in Australia is also the name for a form of open source software whereby users can use their own infrastructures to create their own private clouds. It can be integrated with Amazon EC2 (above), with the computing power of Amazon being added to one’s own. Guest support for Linux and Microsoft Windows are also part of Eucalyptus.
Skype is commonly used by businesses as well as by individuals for communicating in real-time online.
Rosa Smith uses a ProfitBricks’ IAAS cloud hosting data center designer when working remotely on her personal blog and online for business!