Currently, most of the software we use is installed on our computers, and our files (photos, videos, documents, etc.) are stored on hard drives. This is the case both at home and at work.
Some companies have already consolidated certain software programmes and data on centralised servers in an effort to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Going one step further, cloud computing centralises all software programmes and data using digital hosts for multiple customers through the Internet. This technology has several repercussions:
- All software that we currently purchase, install, and update will be accessible online, from any device connected to the Internet (PC, laptop, telephone, PDA, etc.) at any time.
- Our personal data will be remotely stored and accessible at any time, with no risk of loss or pirating.
- Companies can reduce the number of servers they need, while remotely accessing some applications that previously had to be stored on site.
All these services are accessible through communication networks. This new model has been dubbed "cloud computing", and it brings an exciting combination of telecommunications and computing. It gives every individual and corporate customer quick and easy access to new digital services. To give a general idea, we can say that users access digital hosts that offer a number of online services, such as:
- collaborative services (chat, social networking, wikis, message services, etc.),
- office software (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.),
- storage space (photos, videos, texts, etc.),
- online games,
- more complex services, like online payment or money transfer systems,
- development platforms, allowing start-ups to create new software,
- powerful computing tools that are immediately available and usable through a portal, with no prior commitment required.
Cloud computing thus offers a number of advantages to the end user:
- Simplicity: online purchase and use of a catalogue of applications, with no need to install or update.
- Software savings: payment for software is adapted to use, which allows the user to use a programme on a trial basis, cancel the software subscription, or change programmes.
- Savings on computer equipment: the user no longer needs to invest in oversized but quickly obsolete PCs, as everything is now remotely run and accessible through a simple web browser.