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Are you familiar with the concept of "cloud computing?" If you do not clearly understand this emerging technology, you are not alone. Ben Worthen of the Wall Street Journal described cloud computing as "Industry-speak for just about anything tangentially related to the Internet" at the Cloud Summit Executive Conference in 2008. Larry Ellison of the Oracle said that he "[horizontal ellipsis]can't think of anything that isn't cloud computing" while attending the same conference. An extensive article posted by Google recommends that we not get "hung up" on what cloud computing actually is or is not, but instead focus on what this resource means for information technology (IT).


Cloud computing allows consumers to access software and Internet applications on demand from any location by using a variety of devices. In the past, IT was almost all housed on-site. Each organization needed to purchase various servers, computers, and software licenses to meet the growing needs of employees. IT, or the organization, bought additional software licenses and hardware for every new employee and for each expanding location. Using cloud computing, organizations open new employee accounts with providers housed on the cloud-based services and readily expand computing capacity as needed.


Another way to look at cloud computing is to see this process as software as a service (SaaS). SaaS hosts an application as a service provided to numerous customers across the Internet. The customer thus is freed from carrying out his/her own software maintenance, ongoing operations, and/or support. These services are provided by the "cloud" on the Internet. In the business sector, sites that allow for tax preparation, photo storage, or social networking are quite successful examples of cloud computing. This technology is also an effective way to increase collaboration and cooperation among work teams made up of employees at multiple locations. Everyone in the organization has access to the same technologies housed in the "cloud."


Educational facilities can use cloud computing to house e-mail services, social networking sites, and numerous other software technologies. Current market research shows that 69% of America's Internet users use some form of Internet-based computing. Merrill Lynch predicts that, by 2013, 12%of the world's software will be in the form of Internet-based cloud computing. Additionally, IT managers note that the appeal and cost-effectiveness of cloud computing are an advantage in a time of economic uncertainty. More and more academic institutions are realizing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of cloud computing.


Source: Cloud computing-Latest buzzword or a glimpse of the future. The Network for Technology Professionals. BNET, Tech Republic, ZD Net. Available at Accessed July 17, 2010.


Submitted by: Robin E. Pattillo, PhD, RN, CNL, News Editor