Rumble in the cloud: 5 cloud storage services compared
Computerworld - It used to be that when I said "cloud services," people's eyes would glaze over and in minutes they'd be gently snoring. That was then. This is now. While CIOs and CTOs still debate about what role the cloud will have in business, personal cloud services have been slowly easing their way into almost everyone's computing plans.
That's not you you say? You don't use a cloud service? Really? Do you use Dropbox to store files? Do you get your e-mail at Gmail? Are you experimenting with Apple's iCloud? Doing work with Google Apps, Office 365, or Zoho Docs? Congratulations, you're a cloud user. You may be thinking a lot of those are software as a service (SaaS) offerings that mimic traditional client-server computing, and you'd be right. But they're also all cloud services.
Lately, though, personal cloud services have been moving into the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) realm. It's in IaaS that you find file storage, media serving, and a variety of other ad hoc services for either no or minimal costs. So many of these services have been popping up, and with so many different service offerings, that I thought it was well past time to take an overview of what's what in personal IaaS.
As I do this, I think you should know that these will all be changing very quickly. Indeed, you could argue that they represent not just the future of corporate computing but a vision of tomorrow's personal computing as well. Apple, for example, has made it clear that iCloud will be working hand in glove with its entire family of devices. They're not the only ones to see it that way. Ubuntu, the popular desktop Linux distribution, is integrating cloud services into its operating system, and Google's Chrome operating system is just enough Linux to run on a computer with the Chrome Web browser linking the "desktop" to the cloud.
At the same time, legal hurdles have been overcome to make personal cloud services more inviting. For example, cloud-based music storage lockers now appear to be legal after the decision in EMI vs. MP3tunes. This decision opened the door to legally storing and streaming your music from cloud storage -- not just from MP3tunes itself, but from Apple, Amazon, and Google as well. It also suggests that you'll soon be able to store videos and other digital content in the same way.
Still, today, we have a mis-mash of services. Here's the best of them as of late 2011.
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