What Google’s Chrome OS Means for Cloud Computing
News continues to trickle out about Google’s planned operating system based upon it’s Chrome browser. The new OS (perhaps called Chromium?) has had more speculation than fact attached to it. However, one significant speculation is that it will finally make so-called “cloud computing” much easier and practical by facilitating online storage of not only documents but photos, music, and maybe even small applications.
The “cloud” in cloud computing refers to the Internet itself, or at least to the myriad of servers and nodes that make up it’s framework. Today, most work done on PC’s is done on hard drives that are physically attached to the computer you are using. In other words, your files are on your computer. No biggie there. However, when you shut down your computer those files are no longer accessible. To move them you can put them on a disk, flash drive, or even email them to yourself.
Another option is to put those files into “the cloud”, where they are accessible to you from anywhere without you physically having to carry them with you. Here, files are stored on a hosted server under your user name and password. Start a project at home on a laptop, sign off, go to the beach, and finish it on your web-enabled phone.
Google already has the backbone in place for such a service, as Gmail provides over 7 gigabytes of personal storage and is accessible via PC or phone browser. It’s quite possible that Google’s ChromeOS, with its emphasis on small hard-drive footprints and portability, can expand the use of this space – which it already owns – through use of a “Gdrive” for online backup, storage, and maybe even applications.
I personally doubt that the cloud will ever take the place of hard drive storage completely, at least anytime soon. Much work will need to be done in terms of security before people will put sensitive information in the cloud, and cloud computing will eat up a lot of Internet bandwidth making working with large files and programs difficult. Plus, if a storage server or even the entire Internet grinds to a halt (remember 9/11?), your files will be inaccessible or even lost.
These are not insurmountable problems though, and once users are comfortable – and that’s the key word here – with not having their files on their computer then cloud computing via ChromeOS can change how we do many things in our lives.