Match capabilities with biz opportunities

Stefan Hammond
Telecom Asia

2009 was the Year of the Cloud for most tech vendors. But if you ask 27 different vendors to define "cloud 2computing," you're likely to end up with 27 different answers.

By its strictest definition, anything "in the cloud" uses computer resources not physically present at the point of origin. A mainframe accessed by "dumb-terminals" (a typical setup in past decades) might qualify using that definition.

But that doesn't help us understand what's going on in the early years of our new century. Cloud computing in 2009 is the greatest shift in the computing paradigm since individual firms started aggregating computing power in the form of mainframes and servers and allocating it to their employees. The "cloud" analogy works because much computing nowadays is conducted wirelessly, and the main avenue is the formless internet. When college students made up something called "Hotmail" in the 1990s, it was so you could communicate by email outside of an educational or corporate network. Maybe this wasn't strictly "cloud computing," but it reflected the concept.

Cloud evolution

Nowadays, many of us use our email archives as a primary record-keeping mechanism, and our historical email files are an important resource.

But what happens if the email files are not backed up regularly? Whether your primary email is a part of a corporate network or simply your personal copy, odds are good that you have your email set to delete the messages from the server as soon as they are downloaded to the PC. And even if a copy of the emails may still exist somewhere in the bowels of the IT department, recovering these emails can be a major issue.

But if you're using a network-based service, such as Gmail, then all of the email would be "safe." This has the advantage of potentially recovering not only the correspondence itself, but also the vast majority of important files.

Even though accounts from providers like Gmail don't have licensing fees, they're a way of storing emails and attached files in "the cloud".

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