Cloud computing is relatively a new term made popular by Google. Wikipedia Encyclopedia defines the term as,
“Cloud computing is a computing paradigm shift where computing is moved away from personal computers or an individual application server to a ‘cloud’ of computers. Users of the cloud only need to be concerned with the computing service being asked for, as the underlying details of how it is achieved are hidden. This method of distributed computing is done through pooling all computer resources together and being managed by software rather than a human.”
Instead of building one super computer to satisfy the computing needs of a corporation, or a cluster of organizations, cloud computing is based on thousands of simple computers managed by complex software. Google is concentrated in this technology like a laser beam. As this concept spreads, it promises to expand Google’s footprint in industry far beyond search, media, and advertising, leading the giant into scientific research and perhaps into new businesses. In the process Google could become, in a sense, the world’s primary computer.
More than anyone else, Google is defining the new architecture of media and commerce in the digital world. The expansion of the Internet and its opportunities cries out for a map, and that’s what Google is building out of tens of thousands of server computers around the world that handle quadrillions of bytes of data. With each new search whose data refine that map, with each new business that links its own digital explorations to the search engine, Google gains more knowledge and more power. This is what I call the power of cloud computing.
Now its time to explain a Google’s cloud. It’s a network made of hundreds of thousands, or by some estimates 1 million, cheap servers, each not much more powerful than the PCs we have in our homes. It stores impressive amounts of data, including numerous copies of the World Wide Web. This makes search faster, helping hound out answers to billions of queries in a fraction of a second. Unlike many traditional supercomputers, Google’s system never ages. When its individual pieces die, usually after about three years, engineers unplug them out and replace them with new, faster boxes. This means the cloud regenerates as it grows, almost like a living organism.
According to Google’s co-founders, cloud computing is the necessary vehicle needed to accomplish Google’s mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Listen to a talk that Larry Page, Google’s co-founder and president of products, gave in 2002 at Stanford. He said Google aims to turn the technology behind its search engine into a true artificial intelligence that could “answer any question, which means you can do basically anything.”
Google is not alone in the pursuit of building the largest and most powerful global computer network civilization has ever built. These are the big league players:
- Google: The only search company built from the ground up around hardware. Investing more than $2 billion a year in data centers. By far the leader in cloud computing.
- Yahoo: Smaller and poorer than Google, with inadequate software for cloud computing. But still with a strong user’s base, it could end up with a lead over latecomers.
- Amazon: The first to sell cloud computing as a service. Smaller than its competitors, but its expertise in this area could give the retailer a competitor’s advantage in the next-generation Web service from retail to media.
- IBM: King of business computing and traditional super-computers. Teaming up with Google to get a foothold in cloud computing. Launching a pilot cloud system for the Government of Vietnam.
- Microsoft: Fixed, for now, to its proprietary software, which could be a handicap. But it’s big in the fundamentals of cloud science. And it’s building massive data centers in Illinois and Siberia.
I know this sound scary, but the ultimate winner in the cloud computing race could control all the information of the globe and thus become more dangerous than “Big Brother”. It bring chills to my spine just thinking about it.
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