Peer to Peer

June 2009

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the quarterly magazine of ILTA 81 Peer to Peer E ver feel like your head was in a cloud? Perhaps a storm cloud would be more descript. Cloud computing. The technology industry loves their buzzwords, and this new phrase is quite the darling. But isn't this just a new name for technologies we've already been using or reading about for years? IBM called it "on- demand computing," and others have dubbed it "grid computing" or "software as a service" (SaaS). This issue of Peer to Peer is jam-packed with information on this technology. I have to admit that cloud computing has a nicer ring to it. And speaking of "ring," the computer industry is referring to cloud computing as the web-tone service that the future will be built on in much the same way that the phone industry would often speak of ring-tone service as foundational. It does make sense. We're all storing an ever growing amount of data with service providers that are scattered all over the world, but our connection to the net keeps that data at our fingertips no matter where we are from one day to the next. The number and types of devices being used to access that data continue to grow, too. Major technology players such as Microsoft, VMWare, Cisco and Sun believe it's the future. They have invested heavily into all of this. Even Amazon, better known for selling books is now selling computer storage and computing power like a utility service. Internally for ILTA, we have embraced SaaS. Earlier this year we migrated to the latest version of our vendor's E-Groups software but we did so under the SaaS model. Our E-Groups system is hosted with Higher Logic, a social networking vendor located in the Washington DC area. With this transition to a hosted service, we look forward to updating our E-Groups system more frequently with new features and improvements because SaaS makes doing so easier. During the final six months before we launched Project Monkey, we also made use of a popular free web-based service from Google, namely Google Docs. I like that word free, don't you? Google Docs allowed us to more effectively manage the final stages of the project via Google spreadsheets. Google's spreadsheet application made it easy to track issues, their current status, and the tasks that still needed to be completed. As a hosted application, the data is stored on Google's servers, and it was easy to grant access to the various vendors and technical people who were working on the project. All they needed to do was setup a Google account, which was quick and easy. And we could all be in the same Google spreadsheet at the same time, updating or adding new content, and each user's changes would appear almost instantly for each person in the spreadsheet. Users could also choose to receive alerts when content was changed in the spreadsheet. I found that feature quite invaluable. Of course, SharePoint offers similar functionality, but did I mention, Google Docs was free? That's a wonderful word in our current economic climate. I don't know what the future holds for cloud computing, and security concerns will remain a significant issue to address. Also, the use of cloud computing will probably mean giving up some level of control in exchange for convenience and accessibility, but there can be great opportunities where hosted applications and hosted data storage are just the ticket. I'm looking forward to seeing the many silver linings behind these clouds. ILTA Questions? contact clay Gibney at inside IlTA Monkey Update! Watch for ongoing updates to

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