"Cloud-computing" v. Web 2.0

Semantics. That’s what it really comes down to. In reading more about the uses of web-based application, I had been confused about the term “cloud-computing.” I think this is the newest buzzword to enter mainstream conversations, although on review, it seems it was coined at a conference WAAAYYY back in the era known as 2007. So what the heck is it?

Basically, it is an off-shoot of the concept of Web 2.0, which itself is just an off-shoot of the concept of the internet itself.

For the past year, most research I have done has indicated that programs like Google Docs, Wikipedia, and YouTube are known as Web 2.0, that is that they are collaborative in nature, user-driven, and exist wholly online.

Now I find out that what Google Apps are is really “cloud computing.” Apparently, someone felt that since these types are gaining immense popularity in the mainstream world, we needed a new buzzword. So, cloud-computing is any program or service which people can access to do work (or play, I imagine), but do not need to download. These are myriad programs and sites that cover just about anything: taxes, fantasy football, stock portfolios, payroll, or presentation software. These are sites which, if I understand correctly, dilute the load of data driven by the consumer through the vast array of available servers in their network, perhaps throughout the entire web, or “cloud.”

What’s the difference? Well, I think the only real distinction here is that whereas YouTube and Wikipedia are created almost 100% by users and only maintained by the site host, these cloud computing applications are complex programs which are provided for the use of the public, with or without fees. Does it mean they are no longer Web 2.0, then? Not necessarily. I think all of these still fall under the concept of Web 2.0.

Got it? Yeah it’s all pretty fuzzy for me, too. Here’s what you need to know:

In the next few years, most major software applications people buy in stores and load on their computers will be available in a full-function format online, with or without a fee (Microsoft recently announced plans to migrate their behemoth Office suite online starting late this year). Whatever we call, it, this will make the individual user much more powerful and mobile, since then mobile device will be portals into programs usually only available on your desktop at home.

So don’t get wrapped up in the buzzwords, but stay tuned, things are going to get a lot more convenient as businesses hit the ground running with this software…

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