Content in the Cloud

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While "cloud computing" might qualify as the most overused buzz term of 2008, the concept of internet-based development and delivery of technology has been around for quite a while. Earlier incarnations including grid computing, hosted environments, virtualization, and software as a service (SaaS) laid the groundwork for what is now commonly referred to as cloud computing and, indeed, represent important components of cloud-computing architecture.

According to a 2008 paper by Carl Hewitt called "ORGs for Scalable, Robust, Privacy-Friendly Client Cloud Computing" published by IEEE Internet Computing, "Cloud Computing is a paradigm in which information is permanently stored in servers on the internet and cached temporarily on clients that include desktops, entertainment centers, table computers, notebooks, wall computers, handhelds, sensors, monitors, etc." Early players in the cloud-computing movement such as Amazon and eBay looked to capitalize excess capacity inherent in their massive enterprise architectures by offering primarily infrastructure and storage services, selling scalable computing and storage capability to customers on a pay-per-use basis.

However, as technical and cost barriers fall and security issues are addressed, the cloud has become a viable platform not only for back-end operations but also for key business practices, including content management and distribution. Kate Noerr, chairman of Muse Global, a supplier of OEM content integration software, says, "In the sense that cloud computing is a hosted environment, it’s no different. But it’s a new wrinkle because it gets to the core of a company’s business practices, and that’s a big ideological change."

The role that cloud computing will play over the next 2–3 years is bound to change dramatically, particularly for creators and consumers of content. Amazon’s November 2008 announcement of the launch of its CloudFront content delivery service alongside its traditional infrastructure services is clear evidence that cloud computing for the content world is only becoming more entrenched.

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