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Clearing up the Cloud

There is a lot of buzz these days about Cloud computing. But all the recent marketing hype has created more questions than answers. They tell you that you need to be in "The Cloud", but they don't tell you what that means or what it will do for you. I hope to clear it up a little here.

What is Cloud Computing?

The term Cloud Computing is used to describe any situation in which you work on a local device, such as your desktop computer, but utilize resources in another location on the Internet. Yahoo! Mail and Gmail are some simple examples of Cloud Computing. When you use them, all of your work is being done on their servers, not on your local computer. Cloud Computing at it's best though is when you do ALL of your work on a remote server. In this situation, your local computer becomes more of a dumb terminal reminiscent of bygone computer systems.

The most popular system for working completely in the Cloud is Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services. This new buzz word, "Cloud", has become popular recently, but the software from Microsoft that makes it possible really came out more than 20 years ago in WindowsNT Terminal Server Edition. Over the years Terminal Server has been improved and with the release of Windows Server 2008 it was renamed to Remote Desktop Services or RDS. While this technology has been around for decades, I believe that it's sudden surge in adoption can be attributed to the birth of virtual servers and to the super fast Internet speeds we enjoy today.

With Remote Desktop Services your icons, programs, favorites, wallpaper, documents and everything that makes up your Windows desktop environment actually live and run on a Windows Server. Your local computer only needs to run a Remote Desktop Services client. When working in this environment, you do not need to install Office, QuickBooks or any other applications on the local computer. They all live on the server. You can move from desktop computer to laptop to tablet device and have the same desktop. You can start typing an email at the office then go home and login on the family computer only to see that email still sitting on the screen for you to finish. There is no need to worry about having different contacts, documents, favorites or even a program on your other computer. With Remote Desktop Services, every computer is your own. There are Remote Desktop Services clients available for iPhone, iPad, Android Phones, Android Tablets, all Windows computers and even Macs.

Do I need Cloud Computing?

Great technology, but do I need it? If you always work in front of one computer, then Cloud Computing may not be for you. If you find yourself working from the office and from home or often working in front of different computers, then the Cloud may be just what you have been looking for. It is especially beneficial when you have many users with similar desktops because all of the applications can be managed in one place. Their local computers become interchangeable and easily replaceable when they fail. Over time, this can greatly reduce IT expenses.

How can I get into the Cloud?

There are really two options. Own it or rent it. You can have a Remote Desktop Services Server built and run in your own office or you can rent your own Cloud space in a data center. Each option has it's advantages and disadvantages. We run on Remote Desktop Services at SugarLandPC and have helped clients adopt the same technology.

Do you know of a business interested in exploring the Cloud or that has other IT Service needs? Help them out by telling them about SugarLandPC.

Posted by Charles Swihart on 8/1/2011

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