Everywhere you look you hear more and more about cloud computing as well as one of my favorite lines from a Microsoft commercial “Let’s take it to the Cloud…”.  Companies are jumping on the cloud bandwagon in quite a big way.  I wanted to point out and mention some stories and services that I am using personally and am having good success with.

Apple has done quite well serving up the AppStore and iTunes for the mobile devices and Apple has recently announced that it was discontinuing MobileMe and replacing the service with iCloud.  It can go without saying that this has been an invaluable tool for use with my iPhone and iPad.

Living in Florida and dealing with the possibilities of a Hurricane every year, backups are extremely important.  I really discovered how important backups are when I lost a hard drive with two year’s worth of family pictures and videos on it and suffered the full fury of my wife.  Since then I have done more restore testing and mirrored the important files to different drives and computers just to make sure since my wife seems to have more failed hard drives than any one person should and I needed a good solution for my best friend and biggest critic.  I have to make sure I prevent “Hurricane Wife” from forming once again.  I got an Acronis Backup and Recovery demo disk at VMworld one year and gave it a shot.  For a yearly subscription of fifty dollars, I can back up to five separate computers with a total space for all backups being 250GB.  The first backup took days to finish and the process seemed to work almost like bit torrent but once the initial backup completed the daily backups of any changed files goes very quickly and all restore tests have completed without issue and when I travel as long as I have an internet connection the backup will happen. This has really worked well for my personal as well as business needs.

I have some tools that enable me to get my files from my computer to my iPhone and iPad but it was not quite the most convenient way to get things done.  I could only sync one device at a time and the device had to be on the same Wi-Fi network as my laptop for the sync to work.  I tend to work on multiple computers as well as multiple mobile devices, so what I really needed was a cloud storage that multiple people can connect and collaborate from.  Here at The Virtual Practice we found a solution with OxygenCloud and now all of the analysts are able to access this network cloud drive from any computer or mobile device that has the client.

Looking at some other clouds that are used day in and day out I have one word that comes to mind, Amazon.  Shopping via the cloud keeps growing and growing and even when a denial of service attack was attempted on Amazon, the service still just kept running.  Google would be another example of a cloud system that is open to everyone and Google is working to offer more and more services via the cloud, often in a direct competition with Microsoft.  Speaking of Microsoft, I should mention Microsoft Windows Azure and SQL Azure which will enable the ability to build, host and scale applications in Microsoft datacenters.

From your IM to your email and even the Federal Government are all running or going to the cloud.  Everywhere you go it becomes more and more relevant in day to day life even though the end user may have no idea how much they completely rely on the cloud computing systems until something goes wrong like the fail-over fiasco that Amazon went throug, that knocked some it its services offline for a few days.

Cloud computing is here to stay and will continue to grow each day moving forward as more and more of your daily lives function from the cloud.  There is a great deal of talk of what exactly the cloud is and how we are going to secure it as well as service level agreements that will need to be sorted out but the point is you already really have your heads and computers in the clouds, even if you are not aware you are there.

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Steve Beaver (160 Posts)

Stephen Beaver is the co-author of VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and Scripting VMware Power Tools: Automating Virtual Infrastructure Administration as well as being contributing author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4 and How to Cheat at Configuring VMware ESX Server. Stephen is an IT Veteran with over 15 years experience in the industry. Stephen is a moderator on the VMware Communities Forum and was elected vExpert for 2009 and 2010. Stephen can also be seen regularly presenting on different topics at national and international virtualization conferences.

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