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8 Ways You Can Use The Cloud
The cloud has become fairly ubiquitous in recent years and has quickly become a part of many people’s daily lives. However, despite the cloud permeating many aspects of our internet usage a lot of people still may not realise that they are using the cloud. For those who have less technical knowledge of the internet, the cloud can appear as something complex and confusing. They may also believe that they have never used the cloud before. This is generally not the case. Most people who have used the internet in some form are highly likely to have used the cloud. The cloud provides flexibility, scalability and accessibility – and this is why many companies are choosing to utilise the cloud. Here are eight ways that you may be using the cloud, possibly without realising it.
In The Workplace
Many companies are now choosing to use software that is available in the cloud – this is known as SaaS or Software-as-a-Service. With SaaS the applications will often look the same as if you had installed them onto your computer but rather than being installed directly onto your machine you use an internet connection to use them. The software is hosted in the cloud and instead of paying the full price for the software you can pay for how much you use. A good example of SaaS is Microsoft’s Office 365 which gives you access to Office applications through the cloud.
Most offices will have some form of Unified Communications solution in place so that their employees can communicate quickly and easily over a variety of communication methods, e.g. email, instant messaging, telephony and video conferencing. Some companies may choose Skype as a more simple Unified Communications solution but often they will use Hosted Lync. Lync is Microsoft’s Unified Communications solution and Hosted Lync is where it is made available through the cloud. The necessary servers and infrastructure for Unified Communications will be hosted in the cloud and users will access the solution through SaaS.
3. Planning & Organisation
Due to the flexible nature of the cloud and the fact that services can be accessed from anywhere, the cloud has become particularly useful for planning and organisation. Many calendar applications will now sync with the cloud so that you only need to input the information once and it will be available to you if you log onto a different computer. Equally you can enter information into your own calendar and it will appear in other selected calendars. Apple’s iCloud Calendar and Google Calendar are both good examples of this in action. There are even dedicated calendar applications for planning holiday from work, this will be one central calendar that the whole office can input their holiday days into. An example of this is WhosOff.
Many cloud applications can make it much easier for employees to collaborate with each other. With Microsoft Lync, for example, you can share your desktop so that other people you are working with can see what you are doing and make suggestions. With Google Docs you can work on a document at the same time with a number of different people, you can make changes and edit the document in real time. This is a particularly useful facet of cloud computing for the workplace and can improve productivity and efficiency.
A concern for many people in today’s internet age is that they may lose their important data – of particular concern is usually music. Thanks to the popularity of iPods and smartphones people are much more likely to have their music collection in MP3 form rather than in physical CD format. More and more music management applications, like iTunes for example, are encouraging users to move their music into the cloud. There are two main benefits for doing this you can access your music from anywhere on any device but also you are better protected from losing your music in a computer crash. Some music management applications will automatically add your new music files to the cloud as a form of back up.
6. Creative Tools
There are many applications for creative projects that are available over the internet and, by extension, the cloud. There are many free options for those looking to create images or edit photos, such as Pixlr and SumoPaint, which likely utilise the cloud for hosting or processing power. An important cloud development in recent months that has provoked a great deal of discussion has been Adobe’s move to the cloud. Now you can use ‘Creative Cloud’ to access your files and projects from anywhere.
7. Your Photos
Due to the proliferation of digital cameras and smartphones, images are now, more often than not, stored on our computers or on other devices. Now that having physical copies of photographs has become something of a rarity it is more important than ever to have some kind of backup in place for your photos. A great way of doing this is through the cloud. You can back up your photos to the cloud so that if something happens to your computer you will not have lost everything. The cloud is also a great way to share photographs; Facebook, Instagram and Flickr are all examples of people using the cloud to share their photos.
Cloud gaming is something that is still developing. Both Microsoft and Sony have focused on the cloud for their new consoles, the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Utilising the cloud for gaming will allow users to access higher levels of processing power and rendering and will reduce the need to buy physical copies of games. Steam is a good example of the gaming industry utilising the cloud – through the Steam Cloud games can be automatically saved onto Valve’s servers (the company that owns Steam) and can be accessed from any other device that is using the Steam client.
Useful & Related Links
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
Wikipedia article giving more information about what SaaS is and how it is used.
- Video Game Evolution: Cloud Gaming
This hub looks at one of the most recent developments in the video games industry: cloud gaming. It examines the benefits and drawbacks and the newest developments in the cloud gaming arena.