Clouds Reign

Computer science professor Charlie Wiseman takes questions on computing in the cloud

Even if you’ve never heard of cloud computing, you’ve probably used it. Every time you check email from your phone or stream a movie to your TV, you’re accessing the cloud: data that “lives” elsewhere and can be accessed from anywhere. We talked to computer science professor Charlie Wiseman about the rise of cloud computing and its implications for data security.

Photo: Joshua Touster

Computer science professor Charlie Wiseman. Photo: Joshua Touster.

How has cloud computing changed the relationship between people and their computers?
Until recently, everyone had to store things like digital photos on their computer. And it was a disaster if your computer crashed and all your photos were just gone. In the cloud computing paradigm, all of your pictures are stored somewhere else, so you can access them from anywhere and it doesn’t matter if your actual computer dies.

Is there a future where personal computer hardware becomes obsolete?
That’s one possibility. Another related possibility is that your computer becomes very minimal: Just a keyboard, screen, and mouse, and all of your personal information is kept on your cell phone—something you have on you all the time. Then, when you sit down at your computer, you plug in your phone and the computer recognizes you and gives you access to things like your email and your pictures.

As cloud computing grows more prevalent, how do the risks of cyber terrorism increase?
Cyber terrorists or other governments are unlikely to find data if it is only stored on my computer because it is one of millions. But if that data is stored on the server farms of a couple of companies, they only have to attack one place rather than hundreds of thousands of places.

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20 comments

  1. James W Nigsley /

    This is an interesting video.

    Too bad WIT refuses to change their course catalog to include any Cloud Computing, Super computing or Parallel Processing.

    -JWN

  2. Cloud computing is a very interesting subject. On the one hand, sure it’s convenient to have all of your stuff available to you at all times with little to no fear of hard drive crashes and losing data and whatnot, but at the same time, I still like the idea of being able to start your own server from home or working with languages like C that can really get into the core of your hardware. I’m not sure I’d really like a future where storage is a job left for companies and companies alone. The way it is now is much more fun, isn’t it?

    I’m sure the two systems can co-exist though so that everyone is happy. I mean the convenience of the cloud is indisputable. But the power of the full computer, you just can’t let go of. Or maybe it’s just me…

  3. This is an interesting video, very interesting subject. On the one hand, sure it’s convenient to have all of your stuff available to you at all times with little to no fear of hard drive crashes and losing data and whatnot, but at the same time

  4. EO /

    Great points, however, I would like to comment regarding the difficulty on upgrading the Internet infrastructure. It’s not the Internet infrastructure that needs to change, the backbone capacity/bandwidth of the major carriers here in the US are able to meet the heavy loads and demands from popular bandwidth hogs such as Netflix. The real issue here is that data needs to be as close to the consumer as possible in order to achieve smooth streaming of netflix video. This is why Netflix partners up with a CDN, such as Akamai to deliver the video streams to the customers. Akamai has points of presence around the country in strategic locations which is why Netflix’s streaming service can work, and as we all know, it works quite well. The bottle neck with regards to speed on the internet, from a consumer perspective, I believe still lies in the “last mile” of the access network.

  5. I am a recent Information Technology graduate. I was doing some further research on cloud computing. I was in particular looking for more advantages and disadvantages. You bring up some great questions. The desktop PC as we know them may be in danger with the explosion of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets with the development all things in the cloud, one has to wonder is the desktop PC current version going to be ancient history. On the other spectrum is going completely cloud really going be that great with cyber threats increasingly in the news and what happens to people who don’t plan their scopes properly with multiple backups when their cloud storage goes down.

  6. Kaddour /

    I wish all professors at Wentworth are knowledgeable and super-talented like Mr. Wiseman.

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