Tag Archives: Cloud

Carbon and the Cloud

Why should you use cloud computing?

Well, prior to Thursday’s class, I honestly had no idea what cloud computing was. And, I am still a little confused: but after more research I assumed this to be the best explanation: Instead of installing software onto your computer, software applications are delivered as a service through the Internet. Cloud computing is an Internet based approach on “Software as a Service” (SaaS). Another interesting fact that I learned was this : Cloud computing takes less resources to operate (reducing IT costs and centralizing information) and is able to efficiently report carbon emissions. It offers an advantage over traditional software in “environmental enterprise resource planning,” through providing improved data management and performance and lowering costs. It is easier to achieve and record environmental, health, and safety requirements for the tech world with the cloud!

Another 5 reasons to use cloud computing:

1) Cloud computing saves time: less time & resources spent on dealing with software maintenance and support to ensure IT systems work

2) Cuts costs: customer does not have to purchase or install hardware/operating systems/databases/servers/system software

3) Cloud computing is on-demand and up-to-date: cloud computing providers are responsible for upgrading the software.. .the maintenance/updates occurs automatically

4) Offers security and scalability: ex. full data encryption, advanced virus protection, etc.

5) Delivers greater understanding of collected data: ex. allows for the ability to create a carbon, energy, or sustainability index for an industry, and then one can compare performance with other industries.

I got most of this information from an information blog post: GreenBiz



Software as a Service and ICT4D

In class this week, we discussed important emerging ICT’s, one of which is Software as a Service (SaaS).  SaaS describes software and associated data that are hosted on the cloud and accessible to users through a network, usually a web browser – examples include Google Docs and Kickstarter.

In his blog post on ZD Net, titled “More that software, as a service,” Phil Wainewright explains why he doesn’t like the term “Software as a Service”: he believes that it inadequately describes the real purpose of cloud services. He says, “No one (except for a few code-crazed developers) actually wants software, either as a product or as a service. It’s a means to an end. What people actually want are answers, results and outcomes. Therefore, what they want delivered from the cloud is rarely software on its own, but software in combination with other non-software components that add up to a useful outcome.” What the cloud does best, Wainewright later claims, is granting users “access to a pooled, specialist resource that would be hugely more costly to implement separately for each individual business.”  Wainewright’s point is that positive business outcomes are the ultimate benefits of these technologies, not the technology in itself. When SaaS providers simply offer software and leave users to manipulate it themselves in order to experience positive outcomes, they are failing to utilize the real competitive advantage of the cloud.

A parallel can be drawn between Wainewright’s argument about the goals of SaaS technologies and some of the issues we’ve discussed about ICT4D projects. Wainewright says, “Instead of thinking about software when designing a service, cloud providers would do better to think first about the business outcomes they aim to deliver… True innovators see software as just one part of the means to an end.” As with ICT projects in the developing world, Wainewright believes that it’s essential to use technology, SaaS in this case, to achieve a  specific end; what’s important is not the introduction of the technology, but the improvement that can be achieved through using that technology. Technology is one piece of the puzzle; it should be used in conjunction with other efforts to achieve a certain goal, whether for positive business outcomes in Europe or increased development in developing countries.

Cloud Computing: Who Dominates the Field?

Cloud Computing: Who Dominates the Field?

Guest speaker Adam Papendiek spoke about cloud computing as one of the top five emerging trends in the ICT field. Cloud computing is essentially a way to deliver software and hardware without the traditional hassles of installing and maintaining the specified program(s). Cloud computing uses shared resources in a complex infrastructure to deliver IT services at significant fractions of historical costs. Computing power has entered a whole new era of large scale capabilities as witnessed through the various platforms that are capable of connecting billions of people. While cloud computing has made sharing and accessing information easier, it has also made maintaining security harder- an issue that needs to be thoroughly investigated, especially in developing worlds. Cloud computing is broadly divided into three categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Check out this diagram to see which companies currently dominate the cloud computing field in their respective categories. Learn more about cloud computing here.

Cloud Computing in ICT4D: Vietnam

         In class this week, we discussed cloud computing as one of the top emerging trends in Information and Communication Technology today. Broadly, Cloud Technology is using computer resources that are delivered over a network, without needing the necessary hardware or software making it a great option in developing countries. I was interested in looking at how this was specifically applied in developing countries and came across this blog describing a pilot project in Vietnam. This project was developed to help sugar cane farmers communicate with factories about deliveries and payment. Due to the sensitivity of time between the time the sugarcane is harvested and when it is received at the factory, it is crucial for farmers to communicate with the factory to discuss pick up times and amount of cane needed. Previously, farmers were attempting to call the factories and had trouble with their calls going through or not getting the information in a timely manner. Cloud computing allows the farmers to receive a response in 1-2 minutes. By beginning their texts with a keyword such as NATL, the SMS messages are routed appropriately and can be responded to with the requested information. The diagram below details the exact mechanism of the message response and delivery.

          Fred Chong, the author of the blog and one of the main computers on the project identifies SMS messaging as being critical to the success of a project like this in developing areas due to the remaining spottiness of service making phone calls difficult, low costs of sending SMS, the large availability of cellular network infrastructure in rural areas, long mobile battery life as opposed to computers, and suitability for rugged, roaming lifestyles of farmers. This program has led to higher quality sugar cane and greater profits for these Vietnamese Farmers. Chong looks forward to a bright future in this work and calls it “one of the most fulfilled computing project I’ve ever done”. Check out the video in the blog for more information and to hear from the farmers themselves!


Will The Cloud drive up the cost of cyber insurance?

We previously discussed about cybersecurity and more recently we discussed about ICT trends, and The Cloud relates to both topics. As new ICT trends emerge, The Cloud has taken center stage as the new “it” thing. The Cloud is certainly centralizing computing power and standardizing data. As stated by this week’s guest speaker, Adam Papendieck, the subscriptions to The Cloud is based on Software as Service (SaaS). There is greater increase in data center expansion that allows easy access for everyone hosted on the web. This will allow a decrease in dependence and significant level placement on personal computers. This can encourage grassroots organizations to access data as information become less exclusive. This is great, but as Adam stated, this bring up the issue of protection of the beneficiaries, where the idea of “do no harm” is fully emphasized. When data is so easily accessed, a double edge sword can be formed. This was clearly seen during the Haiti disaster where crowdsourcing through Ushahidi data collection allow specific identification of vulnerable populations to potential criminals.

While I believe allowing easy access to data and democratizing data is great, but I can’t help but think of the risks it create. What is happening with these data as they are being accessed? Who exactly are accessing these data about us and what are they doing with the information? The question of cybersecurity is definitely a concern. This when I happen to stumble across an article that questions whether or not The Cloud will drive up the cost of cyber insurance.

The article state that “International Computer Security Association Labs is working on a new initiative aimed at helping cyber liability insurance companies more accurately assess risk associated with cloud computing.” Even though cyber liability insurance protects against risks associated with data breaches and network interruptions at the customer level for years, the introduction of The Cloud computing has caused challenges in assessing the overall risk. At the end of the day it’s about if one can take the risk of their data/information stored on The Cloud. If you can assume the risks, you purchase insurance to eliminate the problem, but those that don’t have the financial ability to purchase one of these policies, what happens to them? With more demands for cyber insurance as there is an emerging trend of The Cloud usage, cost are bound to increase. What will happen then? The above article brings up a very good point. Perhaps, as we advance in technology to make data access more obtainable, are we doing ourselves a disservice by putting our privacy at risk as well as risking additional costs for cybersecurity?