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7.21 Entrusting Your Data to the Cloud (Obj. 5)

For businesses, cloud computing might as well mean “cloud nine.”86 Companies are increasingly relying on “cloud-based” computer applications that can be accessed by mobile phones, tablets, and PCs anytime and anywhere. Google is spearheading efforts to enable future consumers to use inexpensive gadgets to manage their files and media in huge data centers on the Internet. If you use Amazon, Flickr, Gmail, Facebook, or Drop box, to name a few, you are already participating in cloud computing. Your photos and other data are stored in remote locations, and you can access them with your laptop, net book, smart phone, or tablet.

Companies are lured to cloud computing by the promise of greater efficiency and higher profits. Blue Cross of Pennsylvania has enabled its 300,000 members to access medical histories and claims information with their smart phones. Like other tech companies, Serena Software has fully embraced the cloud, even using Facebook as the primary source of internal communication. Coca-Cola Enterprises has provided 40,000 sales reps, truck drivers, and other workers in the field with portable devices to connect with the home office instantly, allowing them to respond to changing customer needs and problems.

However, skeptics warn that caution about the risks of convenience is in order. For one thing, once the information leaves our electronic device for the cloud, we don’t know who may intercept it. In addition to data security, networks must be reliable, so that users can access them anytime. Amazon’s Elastic Cloud outages knocked out the websites of several organizations, including Reddit, Foursquare, Pfizer, Netflix, and Nasdaq, all of which were using Amazon’s cloud-based technology.87



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