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Cloud Computing Is Making Serious Inroads in the Consumer Space

People Use Cloud Computing; They Just Don't Know It

Gary Kim's Blog

Whether one looks at how average consumers “compute,” or how industry segments “compete,” it now appears that cloud computing is poised to change the ways users interact with each other, use applications, communicate and compute. Some of the changes are obvious; others only now developing.

Conceptually, there are several ways cloud computing already is used. Applications in the cloud is what almost everyone already has used in the form of Gmail, Yahoo mail, wordpress.com, Google apps, search engines, Wikipedia or virtually any Web-executable application.

Platforms in the cloud are used virtually exclusively by software developers and their clients. Developers write their applications to a open specification and then upload their code into the cloud where the app is run remotely.

Infrastructure in the cloud takes the software development process a step further. Developers use remote, network-based compute, storage, queueing, and other resources to create and run their applications.

“Cloud computing” sometimes is likened to grid or distributed computing, utility computing (computing as a service), software as a service, network computing, Internet-based applications, autonomic computing, peer-to-peer computing or remote processing. It typically is some combination of those things.

And as much attention as cloud computing gets in the enterprise information technology space, it already is making serious inroads in the consumer space.

Some 69 percent of online Americans use Web mail services, store data online, or use software programs such as word processing applications whose functionality is located on the Web, say researchers at the Pew Internet & American Life Project. They are, in other words, already users of “cloud computing,” an emerging topic in the enterprise computing space as well.

Some 56 percent of respondents say they have used a Web mail service such as Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo. About 34 percent say they have stored photos online. Some 29 percent say they have used online applications such as Google Docs or Adobe Photoshop Express, as well.

About seven percent say they store personal videos online, while five percent say they have a for-fee online storage service and another five percent say they use an online backup service.

About 51 percent of Internet users who have done a cloud computing activity say a major reason they do this is that it is easy and convenient. Some 41 percent of cloud users say a major reason they use these applications is that they like being able to access their data from whatever computer they are using, Pew researchers say.

Some 39 percent cite the ease of sharing information as a major reason they use applications hosted in the cloud, or store their data remotely.

As you might expect, users with mobile computer access are more likely to have done these activities. Among the 34 percent of online users who have used a WiFi connection on their laptop to go online, 79 percent have used at least one cloud computing activity above, and 52 percent have used at least two.

 

More Stories By Gary Kim

Gary Kim is a founder and COO of Dagda Mor Media. He is Editor in Chief of IP Business magazine and ChannelVision magazine. He has been a journalist, industry analyst and commentator since 1983. He was Senior Vice President with Probe Research, Inc., a telecommunications market research firm (1993 to 1996), where he anchored Probe’s cable TV and competitive carrier practice, and has been an independent consultant. He also has worked in the ISP and system integrator industry, where he was director, strategic research, for Convergent Communications, a Denver-based system integrator, and strategy vice president for CacheStream, an Atlanta-based streaming media company

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