My colleague’s Uncle once asked him “What is cloud computing? Do you really keep your data on clouds?" The idea seems highly far-fetched ! Most of the general public do not know what cloud computing signifies.
They are saying cloud computing is the next big thing in IT. Before coming to Web Notes, even I thought cloud was some kind of a big-time new IT invention, which the lesser mortals of this world are not supposed to know. Probably, that’s why the word, cloud. You either had to be above the world or into the cloud to understand cloud !
Now that I am working at ERPNext, I am an enlightened being. I am definitely eligible to explain what this cloud-business is all about.
A cloud is a large collection of very tiny droplets of water or ice crystals. Just kidding! Cloud means a place where you store your data for free or for a negligible fee. This is easy to understand with an example. Most of us use Gmail id to send and receive our emails. Where do you think all our mails are stored by the service provider? They are stored on servers. These servers are not installed into our pc’s or our offices. These servers are placed at some far-off affordable places. Not only the email data, but also other valuable data is stored in a disk form on small servers which are placed in huge buildings. These buildings may not necessarily be in your own vicinity. As long as they are on earth they can serve to store your data.
This data is stored on a large number of computers which are connected through a real-time network like the internet. Multiple users can use this facility all over the world, for different applications.
From an individual users perspective , cloud is basically a place to store emails, documents, photographs, etc which are accessible from everywhere. For example, Google drive is a place which has applications to write documents, upload numbers or make presentations. It gives you free access to all the things which Microsoft offers for a price. My daughter’s school sends all their assignments on Google docs and Google presentations. They use it free, we access it free.
From a company’s perspective , if a company is using various applications for HR, CRM, Financials etc , they can shift to cloud based equivalents for faster access and low IT costs. Applications likeWorkday (HR), Salesforce (CRM), Netsuite (Financials), etc are cloud based. They charge a minimal amount. Here you can demand delivery of IT resources via the internet with a pay-per-usage model. However, one fine day, if they decide to shut down, like Google-reader did, and evaporate in the cloud, it will rain losses for you. To save yourself, keep an umbrella like a cloud service with open-source code.
Cloud based softwares which are also open source, will always exist in the open, like WordPress. You can always be rest assured that somebody or the other will always provide you a blogging platform, since the platform code is open-source and accessible to everybody. Enjoy the rain that your cloud provides everywhere but also keep an umbrella handy like the open-source technology, to save you from getting wet, when you don't wish to.
When you run your applications on cloud, you don't have to buy expensive hardware that needs to be ordered, configured and installed. No need to spend time on server installations or hire server managers. With cloud you are not restricted to service only in a particular geographical area. You can serve world-wide. To quote Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman-Google, “ The world is moving to the cloud. Now’s the time for you to move, too”.
ERPNext is a cloud-based, open-source software. Your cloud that also offers an umbrella.