Oct 082008
Authors: Glen Pfeiffer, Ryan Gibbons

In this column, we feel that it is our job to keep you informed of the buzz words associated with today’s technological trends.

One word in particular has been popping up on our radar an awful lot lately, and considering the concept behind it has been gaining momentum as of late, we thought you might like to know what the future has in store.

After all, it is our job.The concept of “cloud computing” has been around since the beginning of the computing era.

When computers first began to replace typewriters, the majority of the hardware was stored in the basements of corporations who owned systems, and in each office there was a wall plug that connected a screen to the computer itself many stories below.

This idea of a “client-server” can still be seen today. In fact, CSU uses a very similar concept in many of the public computers you see around campus. The smatterings of Sun Mircosystems terminals that adorn the Lory Student Center, Clark A, and occupy every Academic Village engineering dorm room are connected to one central computer (a server, if you’d like to sling the lingo).

The concept is simple, and, more importantly, cost effective. The only real downfall is the slow speed at which the terminals run. So you ask what this explanation of ancient computers has to do with what our future holds? Its simple – the basement is now the Internet.

Now before you go running down the stairs to see what became of all the old stuff you had stored down there, let us explain. The basic concept is that everything that was once stored on a server in the basement would be stored on the Internet — which is really the same thing, because the Internet is, after all, a bunch of connected servers, they are just farther away.

For example, your computer, in a world dominated by cloud computing, would store your data the same way Photobucket.com stores pictures right now.

Instead of holding that data on your hard drive, it would be stored elsewhere, essentially making any computer with an Internet connection the same as having your own computer with you. Just imagine the convenience. Even more exciting, however, is that cloud computing isn’t only limited to data like pictures, documents and music.

Applications will be, and already are, available on the web to sort of run through your computer, rather than off your computer.

Google has been a leader in this push. Even now, they provide Google Documents, a set of Web-based applications that mimic Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and Powerpoint), allowing you to work with these programs even if you’re on a computer that doesn’t have Office.

In support of this push, Google has focused the capabilities of its recently released operating system, Google Chrome, to support Web-based applications, which they believe will be very prevalent in the future — and so do we, especially if Google has its way.

Microsoft has even decided to jump on the bandwagon, recently alluding to a new operating system that would greatly emphasize cloud computing, in both personal and work–related computing.

So the next time your professor tells you to take your head out of the clouds, just let him know you’re not daydreaming – you’re experimenting with the future of computing.

Staff writers Glen Pfeiffer and Ryan Gibbons can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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