One of the most commonly used terms in the Internet software and service industry is “the cloud,” and it appears to mean almost all things to all people. As a natural extension of things such as virtual servers, in which a company’s entire suite of applications can be run off-site and their data securely stored, the cloud is meant to be a way for companies to easily access the resources they need without being tied to a physical location or a particular OS or I/O configuration. Although the cloud is still undergoing a number of growing pains, it possesses the potential to change the way in which business is conducted on the Internet. While not a staggering innovation in and of itself, the cloud is a true evolution of the virtual private server model and if used properly, stands to generate a great deal of profit and use for companies across the globe.
By giving a large number of companies ways to both use and protect their data as well as instantly access it whenever it is needed, the cloud has the potential to free up a great deal of physical real estate and lower power consumptions for companies of all kinds, but the cloud is not yet a perfect system. Hypervisors – which watch over how much of a server is being used for what purpose – still need to be refined to deal with I/O conflicts and high-level backup functions need to be developed in order for the cloud to prove its worth. Still, a great deal of resources is focused on cloud development and once the technology hits its stride, businesses not in the cloud may be flying blind.