Google has apps to enhance any site
Probably one of the most dramatic changes in recent computer and internet technology is the creation of what is called "cloud computing."
The concept for this is simple: programs and files are stored on a centralized supercomputer or network, and the end user accesses these through basic Internet-connected computers. This is similar to storing your files and programs on a server at your office, with the additional benefit that you can connect to the cloud easily from any computer with an Internet connection.
Google has invested a lot of time and money in this concept, and has many useful applications which are fully Internet-based. Google Docs is a web-based suite of applications including word processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs. This, along with their Gmail and calendar systems, provide a free and accessible alternative to Microsoft's Office products, saving businesses and individuals a lot of money.
There is also the very popular Picasa suite, with image processing capabilities, the ability to attach your images to a location on Google earth, and an online, sharable gallery for your photos. Soon to come to the cloud is Google Voice, which is an online telephone call management system.
As Google developers, we have been invited to test the Voice system, and it has performed very well. Voice gives you a unified phone number, and can be used as a call router, SMS message system, and an exceptional answering machine, which can transcribe voicemails, and send them as text messages to your cell phone. Voice also offers very inexpensive international calls, with excellent audio quality.
There are many elements which make cloud computing appealing; ease of accessibility, especially with widespread high speed internet access, automatic updates, and, since everyone uses the same version of the program, there are no compatibility issues.
One of the best advantages to such a system is that there is multiple redundancy. Your data is regularly backed up in several places, so that if something catastrophic were to befall your computer, or even the online server, none of your precious files or pictures would be lost.
Since cloud applications are web based, it is also possible to integrate them into your web site, as we do for our clients.
Such applications include maps and directions, news and finance feeds, shopping carts and order processing, and, as I mentioned in my last column, realtime translation.
Implementing such features on your site can not only make your site more appealing for your visitors, but can save a lot of money in development costs. If a particular feature exists in the cloud, your developer only needs to create the 'plug-in,' not a complete application. Furthermore, Google performs any ongoing maintenance and updates.
If you are ready to grow your business, now is the perfect time to consider our WebUpdate systems, which employ advanced marketing, promotion and security features designed to give businesses the best competitive edge online.
Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design,
the award winning web and multimedia design agency in Chesapeake.
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