Friday, October 28, 2011

Cloud 2: Electric Boogaloo

Cloud storage is easy to understand. It's been around for a while. I will amend what I said yesterday: the buzz marketing for cloud storage is for automatic cloud storage. Almost every storage service I mentioned backs up your settings and files automatically, otherwise it's also about being very easy and quick.

Storage is only one part of the cloud though. Today I want to talk more about cloud computing and what it can be used for.

Probably the most popular currant news item is Amazon Silk. It's perhaps one of the most creative and useful way to use a cloud. The idea is this: a tablet based web browser that invokes the power of a cloud computer to browse the internet. It's pretty simple. You request a web page, the information is sent to the cloud server, it downloads, aggregates and resizes everything from that page and then uploads it to your tablet.

The idea is that with multiple sources (most web pages have many different other webpages and domains where assets and other files are saved) it takes much longer to download and render a web page. However, when there is only one source (in this case, the amazon cloud computer) it can happen much quicker. Also, at the same time it changes certain parts of the web page to make it work faster on a tablet. An image that is 800x600 in size will look the same if it's 100x80 on a smaller tablet screen and so it will download much quicker.

Of course I already mentioned OnLive, but I'll sum it up here: It's a cloud gaming service for PC games. The initial idea was to allow people to play high end PC games without a high end PC. Gamestop is making their own cloud gaming service, but it has a twist; it's for console games. I don't know how they're going to do it, but apparently their concept works. It sounds much more difficult than OnLive in practice, and much more expensive overall, but we'll see.

Other than OnLive there is also another service called Gaikai, but it's primarily for demos, and has 7 whole games on the service. The one cool thing is that it runs through a browser. It looks amazing as well. It runs smooth but doesn't work nearly as well as OnLive. It isn't a competitor for OnLive, but it does have promise yet.

With these two ideas in mind, it's not hard to imagine what else cloud computing can do. I haven't even gotten to distributive computing yet and that's probably the coolest part of cloud computing.

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