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When it comes to Cloud Computing, I always get in trouble to understand the difference between

  • Cloud computing file sharing vs.
  • File sharing services offered by 4shared, Rapidshare, etc.

Can anyone give me a brief about this?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

What the emergent cloud computing direction is really about is companies outsourcing services to third-party companies, instead of having their own server rooms and IT staff, so they can concentrate their efforts on what they primarily do.

It's like how factories in the industrial revolution stopped generating their own power using steam engines and started using electricity from power generation companies.

This is a good explanation: http://www.cloudpro.co.uk/cloud-essentials/1209/what-cloud-computing-quick-guide-subject

On a more user oriented level, it can also mean using web applications instead of desktop applications, but that is a smaller scale example of the same concept.

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+1 for the link and disambiguation of "cloud computing." You should compare it to file sharing websites as the question is asking. –  ultrasawblade Jul 12 '11 at 21:53
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+1, I don't think so, ultrasawblade. Paradroid explained cloud computing in what it differentiates it from other services. If anyone wishes to use cloud computing to do filesharing, they can. There's nothing intrinsically comparable between file sharing and cloud computing. Paradroid answer and link make this clear. –  A Dwarf Jul 12 '11 at 21:56
    
@ultrasawblade: Oh yeah, I forgot about that, but all I can add is that web based storage is not really what 'cloud computing' is fundamentally about. –  paradroid Jul 12 '11 at 21:59
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The word cloud computing gets thrown around as a buzzword and can mean many different things to many different companies/people. To some 4shared/rapidshare are cloud computing.

A more concrete definition of cloud computing is when no files touch your computer. For example in google docs, files are not only saved on the google server, but they also never have to be downloaded by you. This removes the need for a filesystem and allows for the use of an operating system such as Google Chrome.

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"Cloud" is a marketing buzzword that has a vague meaning usually attributed to "doing it online" or "Internet-accessible service."

Possible meanings of "cloud computing file sharing" all include:

  • Rent rackspace at a colocation facility, put a server in it, and configure it with appropriate file serving software (taking security into account). This could be something simple such as merely exposing rsync over an open port, to running an FTP server with multiple accounts, or going to the trouble to install and run (and possibly develop) a Web/AJAX-based file uploading and downloading application.

  • Rent a VM instance from a "cloud computing provider" such as Amazon and do the same thing, just not on physical hardware.

  • Set up a server (or PC with server software) at your house and do the same thing, but much more slowly since your residential upstream is likely 1/10th of your downstream, and you likely do not have powerful server hardware at your home.

  • Obtain a cellular phone with an open or "jailbroken" operating system and do the same thing, but much MUCH more slowly since 3G (and even 4G) has relatively high latency, and your phone is likely a single core ARM CPU with less than 1GByte of RAM.

In a sense, services such as 4shared and Rapidshare are cloud computing file sharing, but the main difference is A) they've been configured (and have the scale) to offer services to the general public, and B) they generally only support file transfers through a Web browser.

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None of those things you mention are really that new or revolutionary though. I agree that there is a lot of confusion about what the the shift to the cloud really is, but it's really about outsourcing services. See my answer. –  paradroid Jul 12 '11 at 21:52
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