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Cloud Computing: The new direction in computing

Chiedozie B. Eboh

UMUC

Cloud computing is presented as an emerging technology that is changing the face

of information technology as we know it; lending itself to the healthcare industry for the

nations health information exchange (HIE). Cloud computer is discussed; its promise, the

challenges and the future.

Cloud computing is the delivery of software, computer infrastructure and storage

as a service via the internet. The idea is not new as a concept but earlier attempt to

introduce cloud computing have failed due to lack of adequate networking infrastructure

(e.g., bandwidth) to carry the large amount of data coast to coast in near real time.

(Hayes, 2010). With the development and easy access to high speed internet and other
fast networks, cloud computing has reemerged. Cloud computing relieves enterprises the

local IT administration of servers and infrastructure and transfers responsibility to a third

party miles away that will provide storage capacity, system processing or in some cases

application software (Jaeger, Lin, & Grime, 2008). Some cloud services can provide all

these services and more for a fee. All a user needs is an internet connection and he or she

can have access to run applications that are not resident on the local computer and have

access to storage in remote location (cloud) (Jaeger et al., 2008). This eliminates the need

to have to purchase and own the software as well as storage capacity and have it in your

local computer. This feature reduces the size of the local computer leading the way for

hand held devices, like Apple I phones and IPAD, to have computing capability. “Cloud

computing provides a potential avenue by which users of hand devices could have access

to computing services.” (Jaeger et al., 2008, p270) Large enterprises could reduce the

cost of computing by paying a small premium monthly for access to a large scalable

computer infrastructure that would otherwise cost a fortune to own and manage (Durkee,

2010).

Cost is therefore one of the driver of this new breakthrough as well as ease of

deployment and management of computer infrastructure on the side of consumers of

cloud computing (Jaeger et al., 2008). The location and organization of cloud computing

infrastructure are all driven by cost. “We argue that the construction and operation of

extremely large-scale, commodity computer data centers at low-cost locations was the

key necessary enabler of cloud computing” (Armbrust et al., 2010).

As cloud computing is making inroad into various sectors of the global economy

there are unavoidable challenges that are driving debate on how far it could go. First,
since the cloud provider is a third party, the consumer of cloud may not really know the

integrity of the operation infrastructure. “This first generation cloud offering, essentially

cloud 1.0, requires the end customer to understand the trade-offs that the service provider

has made in order to offer computing to them at such a low price.”(Durkee, 2010).

Second, lack of adequate government policy on cloud computing leaves a lot of room for

endless litigation in a case of failure or data loss. (Jaeger, et al., 2008). Lastly Armbrust

et al.(2010) enumerated ten challenges to cloud computing with possible solutions.

Attracted by the lure of cloud computing, many organizations are taking

advantage of the opportunities it provides despite the challenges. “Commercial and

individual cloud computing services are already available from Amazon, Yahoo!,

Salesforce, desktopTwo, Zimdisk, and Sun Secure Global Desktop, while Google’s effort

in cloud computing have attracted a great deal of interest” (Jaeger et al., 2008). Easy

implementation, low initial cost and improved distribution of IT resources are among the

lures that are driving several organizations to adopt cloud computing. And now “many

government agencies are opting for cloud computing because it is in line with the

mandates of the Obama Administration to cut costs and provide greater transparency.”

(Chatman, 2010, p37). In order to implement the new health care law on the adoption of

health IT and a nationwide health information exchange (HIE), the office of the National

Coordinator (ONC) is adopting cloud computing as a means to connect regional

exchange centers (RECs) (Chatman, 2010, p38). By adopting cloud computing

government will save money while providing easier delivery of health care. Keeping

health care records safe is a concern, however companies like “Salesforce.com supports a
mature security model and has necessary features to preserve data confidentiality and

provide the right level of data access to different categories of users.” (Chatman, 2010).

Cloud computing is a radical new development in the computer networking

world. Its emergence at a time of high speed internet connection and limitless web

application software is gradually creating global supercomputers that might serve

everyone. Looking ahead, one could see smaller and cheaper computers with even higher

capabilities than what we have today.

References

Armbrust, M., Fox, A., Griffith, R., Joseph, A., Katz, R., Konwinski, A., et al. (2010). A

view of cloud computing. Communications of the ACM, 53(4), 50-58. Retrieved

from http://cacm.acm.org/

Chatman, C. (2010). How cloud computing is changing the face of health care

information technology. Journal of Health Care Compliance, 12(3), 37-70.

Retrieved from http://health.cch.com/products/ProductID-2967.asp.

Durkee, D., (2010). Why cloud computing will never be free. Communication of the

ACM, 53(5), 62-69. doi:10.1145/1735223.1735242.

Greengard, S., (2010). Cloud computing and developing nations. Communications of the

ACM, 53(5), 18-20. doi:10.1145/1735223.1735232.

Hayes, J. (2010). Cloud's caveats. Engineering & Technology (17509637), 5(12), 46-48.

doi:10.1049/et.2010.1209.
Jaeger, P., Lin, J., & Grimes, J. (2008). Cloud computing and information policy:

computing in a policy cloud? Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 5(3),

269-283. doi:10.1080/19331680802425479.