Cloud computing is a way in which several different computers can share with and have access to resources available over a network. Althoug an idea of this field was existent since the invent of networks, it has developed and become more common among people only recently. Cloud computing, more commonly just called "cloud" also makes shared resources effecient. It has received enormous amounts of positive feedback from companies and users in general, who claim that the Cloud has made creating and accessing applications easier, faster and also requiring lesser maintenance. Some examples from the current age that are becoming rapidly popular are : Microsoft Office Online - which allows users to create, edit and share documents online, Google Drive - Google's take on Office Online ; infact, almost all of Google's applications can be counted under Cloud : Google Calendar, Gmail, Google maps, etc. The positive reception of these applications further show the effectiveness Cloud Computing.
One of the most important terms related to Cloud Computing is : Virtualization. Virtualization is the process of creating a virtual copy of a network, storage device or even an operating system. Applicaitons are thus able to communicate and share information with these virtual parts of devices, as if they were single units in and of themselves. Virtualization helps speed up computing processes, and reduces costs as well by reducing required resources. Further, user involvement is also reduced, which further increases the automation speed and reduces the risks of human-errors.
One of the major applications of Cloud computing is that it makes backing up data faster and more reliable. Since the data is stored online, it is at virtually no risk of being lost or corrupted contrast to the physical shortcomings of storage devices like hard drives.
Despite so many advantages of the Cloud, it also has some drawbacks. Just as the risk of theft a physical storage device always lurks, Cloud doesnt reduce the risk of the data saved online getting hacked and being manipulated or stolen. As Cloud becomes more popular, ways of protecting information online should also become more complex.
In the future, Cloud will only get more complex, secure and will see more users relying on it. One very interesting research in this department of Computer Science is : Autonomic Computing. An Autonomic computer system has the ability to manage, repair and update itself. Although currently, research in this area is very minimal, Autonomic Computing, when combined with Cloud computing will definitely make life easier for a lot of people.

QUESTIONS: 1. How will Cloud Computing affect the companies that produce as physical secondary storage devices as their primary products.
2. What can be done to make the process more secure and reliable.
3. Is there a way that the data stored online can be lost due to some virus. Do virtual viruses exist?

1. Autonomic Computing
2. Applications
3. Cloud Computing
4. Virtualization