Society in the Clouds

By Peter Lake & Elizabeth Uruchurtu

There is no doubt that technology can make enormous changes to human society. Advances in Information and Communication technologies (ICT) have created deep-seated changes to the way humans interact, affecting the cultural, political, and economic fabric of many of our societies.

However, Cloud computing is a relatively new phenomenon. Whilst the underlying technologies have been with us for a very long time, the term “Cloud Computing” has only been with us for several years. There is still a great debate about what Cloud actually means. Hill et al1 describe it thus:

In a nutshell, Cloud computing is a means by which computational power, storage, collaboration infrastructure, business processes and applications can be delivered as a utility, that is, a service or collection of services that meet your demands.

What has undoubtedly brought Cloud to the forefront for businesses, is the new business model that it supports. Put simply, the ownership of expensive, hard to maintain, hard to manage computing resources can be passed to specialist service providers who then rent back the services to their customers. This can move expensive hardware purchases from CAPEX to revenue costs. There can therefore be little doubt that Cloud’s recent success is, in some way, a consequence of the current economic climate.

But Cloud will affect much more than just company finances. This is especially true if, as seems to have become the norm, Cloud blurs the boundaries between the Internet, the web of things, and mobile computing. Users will soon expect to be able to access any data, application, or service from wherever they are, using whatever device they currently are accessing.

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