Confused by Cloud Computing?

Is Cloud Computing confusing? Based on a recent survey commissioned by Ctirix, it is for many Americans.

Responses to the survey ranged from “the cloud is related to weather” to “the cloud refers to pillows, drugs and toilet paper.”

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The good news is that even those that don’t know exactly what the cloud is recognize its economic benefits and think the cloud is a catalyst for small business growth.”

So what is Cloud Computing?

Sometimes referred to as software as a service (SaaS), cloud computing lets you work and play online, from any computer or device, at any time without installing software. It’s become a common delivery model for many business applications and affects everyone.

The ABA sums it up nicely for lawyers:
“Software as a Service (or “SaaS”) is distinguished from traditional software in several ways. Rather than installing the software to your computer or the firm’s server, SaaS is accessed via a web browser (like Internet Explorer or FireFox) over the Internet. Data is stored in the vendor’s data center rather than on the firm’s computers. Upgrades and updates, both major and minor, are rolled out continuously. And perhaps most importantly, SaaS is usually sold on a subscription model, meaning that users pay a monthly fee rather than purchasing a license up front.”

Popular cloud-based applications

  • Dropbox – Widely adopted file-hosting service that lets you access the files, pictures, music and videos stored on your computer, no matter where you are
  • Evernote – Popular note taking application that syncs with your computer, smartphone and in the cloud.
  • Rocket Matter – Attorneys now manage their law practice online – legal billing, tasks and calendar scheduling, trust accounting, and more.
  • Your Bank – Direct deposit, pay bills online, even deposit paper checks via your smartphone. We rarely see a teller anymore. The kids probably don’t even know what the word means.
  • Amazon.com – We have to travel a lot farther to browse or purchase books at our not-so-local bookstore. Amazon.com changed the way we shop.
  • Craigslist.org – Remember newspaper classifieds for apartment rentals, jobs and houses for sale? Me either.
  • Google Docs – Create documents, spreadsheets and presentations online. Good for personal or business, including Google Mail for Business. Even Microsoft has gone cloud, transitioning Hotmail accounts to Outlook.com email addresses.

The list is endless. Turns out that 95% of survey respondents who thought they were not using the cloud, actually were. It’s not that confusing.

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