A simple way of thinking about cloud computing is to consider the idea of moving all the physical servers and applications that are located inside a school into a hosted environment outside the organisation (in the 'cloud'). The 'cloud' is not an actual physical «thing», but may be loosely thought of as a collection of networked servers.
The concept of clouds has been around for some time, but is becoming attractive to those in educational institutions because of;
Many people are already making use of software as a service without knowing that's what it is – for instance, the range of sites that will host your blog or wiki for you, the sites that will store your photographs or movies. More significantly are the services such as the Google apps – with Google mail and Google docs etc – available as a service rather than having to purchase and install your own software.
Cloud computing options will provide an attractive alternative to schools looking to spread the risk of their ICT investment. Benefits include:
The concept of cloud computing supports very well with the concept of ubiquitous computing, and the increasing use of internet capable mobile devices that are designed simply to use services that are in the cloud, not necessarily installed on the device.