Everybody is talking about The Cloud – it is on television and radio, in magazines and newspapers, and has been flooding the Internet, presented as a revolutionary technology that will shape up the future. For most people, cloud computing means nothing, since the words “cloud” and “computing” sound very confusing and only make it seem like something overly geeky and out of reach. While the actual technology behind the cloud can be complex, the concept of cloud computing is actually quite simple to understand. In this article, I will explain cloud computing in very simple terms and talk about cloud storage for photographers – what it can offer to us now and in the future, and whether we should be taking advantage of it today.
Whether you backup your photographs to an external hard drive or a storage device, you should regularly back up your photographs to an offsite location as well. There are many cases when photographers foolishly assume that their data is safe just because somebody told them it is. No matter how redundant your storage is, there is always a threat of theft, misuse, various accidents and natural disasters that might cause data loss. Imagine losing everything you have worked on so far – all of your clients photographs, your portfolio images and your photo libraries you spent countless numbers editing and organizing. Are you prepared to lose it all? If you are not, then you should be evaluating a good backup strategy. I frequently get questions from our readers about backing up large photo libraries without breaking the bank. Some are thinking about investing in locally attached storage solutions from companies like QNAP and Drobo, while others are wondering about online backup solutions that seem to be getting more and more affordable every day. “What should I invest in now?” seems to be the question. Large locally attached backup storage solutions can get rather expensive to buy and maintain overtime. Is online storage a good alternative to local storage? I will try to answer this question shortly, but first, let me talk about cloud computing and explain what cloud storage technology is all about.
1) What is Cloud Computing?
Here is an oversimplified explanation of cloud computing. Imagine a large company that employs many contractors, ready and available to work for you any time you want them to. You can hire only one contractor if you are not busy, or you could hire many contractors at once during your peak season, without having to employ them on a permanent basis. Just like your electricity bill, your costs stay low when your business is slow and increase on demand automatically when you get busy, so you only pay for the contractors you actually use. The contractor that you release from work goes to work for somebody else, so his time is not wasted doing nothing. A single contractor could work on several jobs for you and other companies simultaneously and his employer takes care of him, making sure that other contractors help him out if he is overloaded. The company is happy, because it uses their staff efficiently through resource sharing and you as a customer is also happy, because you only pay for what you actually use. You do not know or care about how those contractors are employed, what their shifts and schedules are and how much the company is paying them. All you know is that they are available for you any time you need them at a flat rate. If the demand for contractors grows, the company that employs them can get many more on their payroll to match the demand. So if you are successful and your business expands very rapidly, the company will be able to provide enough resources to match your growth.