The Cloud – Does it have a silver lining?

By Laurie

There is a lot of talk about The Cloud and Cloud Computing or sometimes referred to as Nebulous Computing.
So, what’s all the fuss about?

Lets take a look at the story so far.

The First PCs

The first PCs were functional and stand alone. Some required a rather laborious swapping of diskettes to load
up the operating system and further swapping for data storage.

The First Useful PCs

The first useful computers contained a hard disk (drive) and a floppy disk drive (Now often termed removable media and used to
refer to devices that allow you to take data from your PC. CD, DVD, Zip Drives etc.)

The First Really Useful PCs

The first really useful computers contained above with the addition of a Mouse (Pointing device), a colour graphical user
interface (GUI) and most importantly of all, a network connection. This last stage is most important as it allows multiple users on multiple
machines to share information with each other.

Sharing Information

This concept of sharing information has been accessible to scientists and engineers since the 70’s but required a more technical approach.
So, now it is available to the common man. (And royalty alike)

Network Model

Although there have been a number of different ways using the operating systems and the applications, the ability to store data has
always been the primary concern for the user. The type of network model and its hierarchy have been of no interest, nor should it, other than
the ability to chose who can access what.

The different approaches to the network model came about as vendors, users and companies decided the best way to use the new technology.

The client server model was used to give individual users and computers permission to access certain parts of the network. It was also possible to allow or deny
users access to different applications and to count the maximum number of users using an application at a given time. This
was very useful, as in the standalone environment each computer would require a unique licence to be purchased for it. Now companies would only pay for the maximum
number of concurrent users.

With regard to the data, some companies would still have a hard disk in the PC and this would synchronise with the server when they were connected. (Useful for remote
working on a laptop)

The Diskless Workstation

The diskless workstation might seem like a step backwards but it wasn’t. There were certain environments where organisations wanted
to control the data very tightly. For example, where the data is very sensitive or maybe in a college where users are given some storage space
on the server but it is not intended for them to leave their data on the PC.


Diskless Workstations (PCs) work by having something called a network boot. When the PC is switched on it requests its network connection
and then based upon its identity it is given the Operating System to load. Once loaded the login determines which applications and data the users can

Fault Tolerance

This type of system requires a fast network and zero defect storage. The sort of storage that would be required would be something like RAID 5.
RAID stands for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks. RAID 5 will continue to work with a failed disk and notify the network controller who can remove
the faulty disk and replace it without taking the system down. The new disk is rebuilt on the fly.

Back to the Cloud

At the start of this post we were going to look at The Cloud. In reality, the diskless workstation is how the cloud is intended to work but with one
major difference. The diskless workstation was intended to work within an organisation across their network whereas The Cloud is intended to
work across the Internet with the storage outside of the organisation. So, although technically very similar there are a number of issues related to security, connectivity and up time which may impede
the rapid deployment to the cloud. So, lets take a balanced view and look briefly at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT)
of the use of Cloud Computing.


Economy of scale from a data storage wholesaler
Fault tolerance
Individuals can have big company service


Fault tolerance


Reduce data storage costs
Latest implementation of software


Upgrades at the speed of the provider. (Good or bad it may not suit the end user.)
Data security
Does the host have fault tolerance across multiple sites

Is the Cloud for me?

I can see that at some point in the future I will subscribe to the Cloud but I will not be an early adopter. Most of my work takes place in the same location and
my broadband connection is slow and from time to time intermittent. Once BT have upgraded the area to BT Infinity I will look again.
I do not envisage a subscription to Operating Systems or Applications early on as I prefer to work with current version minus one or two.
Like many people most of my work with the popular applications uses only a fraction of their capability

When I do join the Cloud I will be asking the provider for the geographical locations of their fault tolerant data centres. I will want to know how much
bandwidth they have and how much of that I will get when connected.

categoriaTechnical commentoNo Comments dataJanuary 9th, 2014


This author published 39 posts in this site.
Welcome to my blog. My interest are Judo, Self Employment, Internet and Off-Line Business.


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