The growth of the cloud has meant that many services are moving to the web, which traditionally would have been managed offline. The cloud is a descriptive phrase only and refers to the use of online services and storage rather than local storage and software.
Cloud computing is predicted by many to become the pre-eminent way that business and home users will use computer software, with far less reliance on having software installed on desk top computers in the office of home.
While the term cloud computing is relatively new and the concept behind it is touted as being very much an upcoming idea, such services have actually been around for many years and are already very widely used by both businesses and personal users.
The best example is the wide selection of web mail services that have been offered for many years by companies including Microsoft with Hotmail, latterly Live Mail, and Google’s younger rival Gmail. These have quietly acclimatised many users with working with software online with all the associated files being stored online also.
What Types of Cloud Services are Available?
There are a range of services that can offer value to Graphic Designers and these include:
- Office suites including word processors and spread sheets, such as Zoho
- Image storage and editing, with Flickr being one of the best known
- Project management
- Time tracking and invoicing
Advantages of Cloud Computing
Not all views on cloud computing are positive, but there are undoubtedly some real advantages to working this way.
It is possible to find many cloud computing services offered for free, though in many cases this is for limited services, with more capacity or tools offered on a paid for basis. If a Designer is using a paid for service, they only need to pay for the actual service and resources that they use.
There is usually no requirement to install software, though in some cases there are options to enhance the service with a desktop top, meaning that the main software will always be up to date and any problems are dealt with automatically by the experts.
Files can be accessed from anywhere as long as the user has their user name and password and responsibility for backing up such files is passed to the service provider.
Disadvantages of Cloud Computing
Arguably the biggest concern with cloud computing is that the services could become unavailable, either because of a problem with the service itself or with the Designer’s connection to the internet.
Also, while the responsibility of backing up files being passed to the service provider can be seen as an advantage, there maybe worries over the reliability of the service provider’s procedures and there have been cases of end users losing information when systems have failed.
Some users have concerns over security and feel uncomfortable with storing essential and possibly sensitive information online.
While moving to cloud computing services may not be to everyone’s taste, this is sure to become a more common way of working and computing and the advantages will outweigh the disadvantages for many Graphic Designers who will welcome the flexibility that it offers.