So many of us now rely on smartphones not only to make calls and send messages, but also to complete tasks that in the past were relegated to computers, such as checking e-mail and accessing websites. More and more, we are doing these things on our mobile devices thanks to the cloud technology made possible by the Internet. But what is the mobile cloud? What distinguishes mobile cloud computing from the cloud computing we use on the computer in our home or office? Understanding the technology behind the mobile cloud can help us better grasp the many abilities and possibilities it offers.
Mobile cloud computing is simply cloud-based applications accessed through a mobile device. The idea of “the mobile cloud” emerged shortly after the development of cloud computing in 2007. Cloud computing and mobile cloud computing are very similar in that they both use an application that stores and processes data outside of the physical device that is used to access the application (i.e., the computer or the smartphone). Understanding “What is the mobile cloud?” begins with a basic understanding of cloud computing itself.
Any time we use an application that connects to the Internet through our cellular phone service, we are using mobile cloud computing. Because any smartphone can have a browser application that allows the user to surf the web, we can access many of the same apps via our cellphones that we access via the computer. The development of mobile cloud computing has brought about increased development of cellphone apps, and the market for these mobile cloud applications has grown astronomically in recent years. Between 2009 and 2014, the mobile cloud application market is estimated to grow almost 90% annually.
To better understand the mobile cloud, becoming familiar with the architecture behind its use is also helpful. Currently, the architecture of mobile cloud computing consists of a (1) mobile network that delivers a (2) connection to the Internet to a (3) mobile device through (4) base stations connected to the mobile device via satellite, access points, or base transceiver stations (BTS). These base stations include servers with databases, the home agent, and AAA (authentication, authorization, and accounting) that allow subscribing mobile users to send requests and information to central processors connected to the mobile network server.
Requests and information sent by subscribers are then sent to the cloud via the Internet, where cloud controllers process and respond to the requests and information. The services carried out by cloud controllers when using mobile cloud applications are executed by applying network architecture concepts such as virtualization, utility computing, and service-oriented architecture.
The mobile cloud apps we download to our smartphones or other mobile devices are similar to, or the same as, the cloud apps typically accessed at a desktop computer. For example, smartphone users are able to access online e-mail applications such as gmail, yahoo, and hotmail through mobile cloud technology. Additionally, smartphone apps allow users to connect to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as to complete typical computer tasks, such as photo editing, online learning, trading stocks, translating text, managing finances, and more.
Although mobile cloud computing is currently designed and implemented in multiple ways, there is still room to develop and improve the technology because a variety of issues need to be explored and resolved. For example, mobile cloud computing is somewhat hampered by network architecture issues that hinder the achievement of its full potential and unrestricted use. In addition, issues of overcrowding and overuse will increase as the number of users grows and user demands and expectations concurrently increase. Additionally, the ever-pressing issues of privacy and security as they apply to mobile cloud technology need resolution too.
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