1. Do I need constant Internet for such applications ?
In theory no, but depends on the application designer. For example, with Gmail, you can enable an option that lets you use Gmail in your web browser even after you’re not connected to the Internet (it is using Google Gears, but soon will be with HTML 5 with the ease of Web Storage). It means that even without the Internet, you can read the emails that are synchronized at the time of disconnecting from the network, and even respond to them (even if those emails you write will not be sent until you reconnect to the web).
However, today this cannot be done with Yahoo Mail or Hotmail, and the same could happen with some applications that require constant connection to the web.
The good news is that it is becoming clear to many companies that this is going to be the type of work that we are going to do in the near future, so you can look forward to seeing more and more types of web applications that work on both online and offline mode.
2. Do I need to buy a new PC to take advantage of services ?
In the case of Google Chrome OS, a device for the official answer is yes, because Google creates technical specifications with manufacturers of hardware that make these applications work much more efficiently with such devices, with hardware acceleration, and without the need for a heavy traditional operating system from web browser and the hardware.
However, in the case of Chrome OS, where Open Source is a third-party version that can be installed in almost any PC, Laptop or Netbook, directly on top of other hardware and operating systems like Windows, OS X or Linux (although in these cases is very possible that the performance is slower).
On the other hand, remember that as the developers of these Web applications adhere to open Web standards, such applications should work without problems not only in the Chrome browser, and Chrome OS, but also with any web browser that supports these modern standards (especially HTML 5).
Google has made clear that everything you do in Chrome OS, you can also access it from a common web browser on another system. So for example you create a spreadsheet in Google Docs on your netbook with Chrome OS, and later continue editing it in one of cyber-cafes from a Firefox browser, and then continue later from a Mac in Safari, and in all cases work on the same version of the document in Google Docs.
3. Do I need to pay for remote computing and storage services ?
That depends on the provider of such services. In Google’s case, it’s all for free, but use advertising as their way of income. This is for example, what happens with GMail, where I offer several gigabytes of space, but you see ads outside emails.
However, no doubt emerging versions “Pro” or “Business” which will provide other benefits, such as removing advertising, host the data on your own domain, more storage, version control (so that if you make an editing mistake, you can return “back” to earlier versions, etc.).
4. Could Google monopolize the Internet with Chrome OS in the same way Microsoft did with Windows ?
Chrome OS is based on open standards, and it is an open specification, which means that nothing prevents someone else to develop their own version according to the standards and offer the same services of Google, or Apple and Microsoft from their web browser into its operating systems, or to see versions of Firefox and Opera compatible with this mode but that store data in their repositories.
What I worry is that Google should keep data (such as spreadsheets and emails) in a proprietary format, as this would make one dependent on Google, but that’s not the case today (and according to Google, not in the future), which means it’s trivial to get your data from Google, and take you to another provider.
My view on this is that Google knows quite well that we live in a new world where these issues are discussed openly, and even the most typical users are alerted to these issues, so their strategy is not to corner the users, but to provide the best experience possible for them to stay with the company voluntarily.
5. I’ve heard the term Cloud Computing, Grid Computing, Utility Computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS or Software-as-a-Service) What is the difference between these terms ?
It is just a detail of semantics and all revolve around the same concepts, only a more specific way than others.
Cloud computing is just a generic term which means “things happen in the Internet out of your PC, either store data or do calculations processing. This is the most generic term that is most happening at the moment.
Grid computing is nothing more than a specific case where an application is designed to make computations and massively distributed in the Cloud web hosting. That is, an application like Folding @ Home, use the collective power of tens, thousands or millions of machines distributed over the Internet to speed up a calculation parallelizable.
Utility computing model is nothing more than a collection of model utilities such as water or electricity, where you pay according to consumption. So for example, under this scheme you can charge per hour of use of a remote CPU, or per user per day, or GigaByte storage, or a combination thereof.
And as for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), this is just to say that using a remote software as a service provided by your web browser, instead of a locally installed software. A good example is Google Docs.
6. Are there any standards for Cloud Computing? ” Can I host my data from one cloud to another ?
Due to the recent interest in these services, it is still too early for universal standards exist for Computing and Storage in the Cloud, however, started with an effort called Open Cloud Consortium (OCC) where the idea is to create standards that allow you to move freely between the service provider to another.
However, we must clarify that this is still in its infancy, and it is now trivial to move your data from the previous cloud hosting provider to another one. For now the best bet is to stay attached to standards as open as possible to allow in the future to extract data from one place and easily transfer you to another. One example is Google Docs that allows you to export your data in formats such as Word, Excel, etc.
7. Is it possible to host a local tag on my network ?
Certainly, though no doubt this would negate many of the benefits you will get from the cloud hosting, but otherwise you have a lot more control of your data. However, by now almost all such solutions are proprietary and created as consultants, or by the same technology departments of large enterprises for their own use. However, this is a space that will undoubtedly have many competitors in the near future.
8. Is it possible to extend my home network to a cloud ?
Certainly. ESDS for example, offers a service called Virtual Private Cloud. What it does is it creates an extension of your LAN to virtual servers, including using your own IP network configuration.
That is, by using VPN. But what does it means?
VPN (Virtual Private Networks) are commonly known as technologies that provide one or more network connections (logical network) on top of another network (eg internet). Despite the fact that communications are carried across networks with unknown lower level of confidence (eg, over a public network), the level of confidence in the construction of logical network does not depend on the level of confidence in the underlying networks through the use of cryptography (encryption, authentication, public key infrastructure, facilities to protect against repetition and change transmitted through a logical network communications).
ESDS makes you believe all the machines in your network that ESDS’s servers are also on your network, so you can use these VPC to install your applications, and grow your network without the need to maintain those servers, and get nearly instant scalability if demand for such applications increase.
9. Is it cheaper to use service of Cloud Computing in a local ?
That depends entirely on your company and your needs, including size, number of employees, infrastructure, etc.. For some companies that already have a solid foundation that works with very few problems, maybe not worthwhile, but likewise many others have much to gain.
Usually things that are an easy decision to move to the cloud are things like cloud web hosting servers and cloud email hosting servers. But applications should be studied, unless the company has several branches, it might be worthwhile to save high costs of interconnection and leased line of Internet.
10. How much are these services ?
Depends on the supplier, but can range from free (version “Standard” of Google Docs, for example), even a few hundred rupees a day. To give you an idea, ESDS Data Center currently charges (depending on the power of the virtual server you want) the range of Rs. 2,199.00 INR to Rs. 3,299.00 INR a month for basic servers and to about Rs. 27,180.00 INR for very high capacity servers.