Cloud Storage Services
One increasingly popular application for cloud computing is personal and business data storage for archiving and backups, as well as file-serving for websites and items such as images used for message board posts or other transient purposes, and much more.
According to Wikipedia, cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).
Think of it as scalable, anytime, anywhere access to your files and tools, without the limitations of traditional client-server environments. Electricity is a great example: while you could have your own generator, which you need to maintain and keep full of fuel, it is easier to plug an appliance into a wall outlet and have all the power you need as long as the electric bill is paid.
One of the powerhouse players in the field is Amazon with its Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), which is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers by maximizing the benefits of massive scaling, then passing those benefits on to developers.
“Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web,” states the S3 site. “It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, secure, fast, inexpensive infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of websites.”
S3 allows individual file sizes up to 5 TB — and that is a HUGE amount of data.
Users with less demanding needs may find an appealing option in the company’s hot consumer offer, Amazon Cloud Drive, likened to having “a giant hard drive in the sky.” Amazon Cloud Drive provides users with 5 GB of free online storage, with unlimited access from any computer. Additional space is available, up to 1000 GB for $1,000/year.
Another service that may be of interest to adult webmasters is Amazon Cloud-Front, which integrates with other Amazon Web Services “to give developers and businesses an easy way to distribute content to end users with low latency, high data transfer speeds, and no commitments.” Think of it as a content delivery network (CDN) on steroids.
Today, rethinking the role of the web server may be in your company’s best interest — and if you need a truly robust solution to some of your storage needs, check out the services available from Amazon — if even only as a yardstick for judging other offers.