Cloud computing as a boost to the economy and a threat to the environment

In the digital information age, the cloud computing technology is now existing in every single one of our electronic devices and many platforms and soft wares. The essay will first introduce the history and the three different types of cloud computing services. Then the essay will be explaining the development of cloud computing. This essay will present the benefits cloud computing brings to the business and using Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud as an example to demonstrate the argument. It will outline some features of cloud computing that could promote the business from a different aspect. In contrast, cloud computing also raises some social issues. The article will focus on explaining the potential threat to the environment posed by electronic memory cloud computing, and it will use “Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas” protest to support the idea.

What is Cloud computing

The word “cloud ” is a metaphor that refers to a large data centre. A computing platform that allows people to access shared resources while connected to the internet(Aljabre, 2012). At the same time, through cloud computing to achieve re-selection, management, statistics, and processing data resources( Jamsa, 2011). Cloud computing throws away the past storage model, which stores the data on the computer hard drive; it can store data and programs over the internet. The music, photo, video, document all depends on cloud computing (figure 1). The pay-as-you-go model of the cloud computing service and the ability to store information, ease of use, and afforded price made it increasingly popular, especially in the business world (Jaeger, Lin & Grimes, 2008).

Figure 1 what is cloud computing: Satyam Solutions Pvt. Ltd., 2012, All rights

History and development

The initial idea of cloud computing is the interconnected system of computers, which brought from J.C.R Licklider in the 1960s. Before cloud computing emerged, grid computing is the foreground of this concept. With the rapid development of the network in recent years, the functions of gird computing cannot meet the current needs of people for storage. The emergence of Web 2.0 and the further development of network computing and the development of vitalization technology have prompted the rise of cloud computing. Cloud computing can be seen as an evolution of grid computing infrastructure. According to the essay Cloud Computing and Grid Computing 360-Degree Compared, the development from grid computing to cloud computing is “from an infrastructure that delivers storage and computes resources to one that is an economy based aiming to deliver more abstract resources and services .” (Foster, Zhao, Raicu, & Lu, 2008, p2)

Who owns it and Who benefits from it?

Cloud computing is rapidly developing and is used widely in today’s commercial enterprise. Big businesses such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and Apple, as the provider of cloud computing, are dependence on cloud computing technology for their business. Among them, Google is the most powerful competitor in cloud computing has more than one million service machines (Zhang, Zhang, Chen, & Huo, 2010).  Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud as an example to explain how cloud computing promotes the development of business and bring benefits to the economy.


Source: (Ecourse Review, Cloud Computing Services Models- IaaS PaaS SaaS,  2017, Standard YouTube Licence.)

The video above from YouTube explained the three types of services provided by cloud computing:

The SaaS is software that provides the consumers with the ability to quickly access and storage their data, information through the online website without download the actual software. Users can pay as they needed. PaaS is a platform for developers to develop technologies and programs, manage and operate systems, and manage data and resources. IaaS provides customers with infrastructure computer services, for example, firewalls and anti-virus software. Like SaaS, customers can purchase service according to their needs (Aljabre, 2012). Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud service provided PaaS and IaaS. First, the customers of can use the service Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud could enjoy the low cost and high-quality service from the technology. According to Kondo, Javadi, Malecot, Cappello and Anderson(as cited in Aljabre, 2012), Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud charges customers 1cent per gigabyte of storage. They can access and store files, data, and share it anywhere and any time via the internet. It also creates a safe, secure space for companies to store their business information, and again the service is affordable on-demand service (Aljabre, 2012). Overall the service provides the customers with reliability, flexibly and low expense. These advantages are attracted and helped Amazon got many users.

Second, Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud network service can reduce the cost of management, space, equipment, and energy that enterprises would otherwise need. For example, reduce the cost of cooling and power. Spare funds can be used to invest in new investments and make more profit from it (Ibid)

Third, Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud can also reduce the number of employees in the company’s management. A small number of employees can manage the use and management of cloud computing. A reduction in the overall labour quantity means a reduction in the cost of hiring employees. New businesses that have just started and have limited funding especially benefit from this advantage (Varia as cited in Aljabre, 2012)

It took Amazon less than two years to make cloud computing a significant part of the company. More than one hundred million in revenue in two years comes from cloud computing services. In the first quarter of 2016, 56% of the company’s profits came from cloud computing (Cloud Computing Pros,n.d). Today Amazon has seven branches in different countries (Zhang et al., 2010). Globally, Amazon has 7900 grid active accounts and approximately 150 loose-leaf seller accounts. As in Cloud Computing Research and Development Trend, “Cloud computing has become one of the most businesses that increase rapidly” (Zhang et al., 2010, p 95). The succeed of Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud prove that cloud computing can promote the development of the economy, and has gradually become an indispensable technology in People’s Daily life.

Technology collision with the environment 

Cloud computing has enabled virtualisation of networks, turning our data into electronic memory. However, virtualised networks make people forget about the material basis (Reading & Notley, 2015). In the digital commodity chain, the extraction of material resources is the necessary process to form digital virtual worlds. When the economy, business, and customers enjoy the benefits brought by cloud computing, what is the environment consequences cause by the “hidden material commodity chains”?(Ibid)

The ‘Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas’ protest that happened in Malaysia will uncover the treat digital memory cloud computing might bring to the environment. Lynas Corporation is an Australian “rare earth” mining company. Lynas was planning to build the wold’s biggest rare earth extraction factory in Malaysia. The development of electronic technology depends on the demand for materials, and mining is essential to the memory economy. Every digital product including cameras, mobile phones, everything electronic records audio, wires, cables needs to be mined for rare-earth (Ibid). Every element of rare earth can be used in the development of electronic products.


Source: (Toxic fears in Malaysia over rare earth plant, Al Jazeera English, 2012, Standard YouTube Licence)

However, in the process of rare earth mining, a massive amount of waste will be generated, and there are radioactive materials such as thorium and uranium in the waste (Phua & Velu, 2012). These substances will pollute the environment and seriously threaten people’s health. The more radiation, the higher the threat to health. According to the research in Phua and Velu (2012) journal, extracting one ton of rare earth elements will produce 2,000 tons of repeating substances. Imagine the consequences of these massive amounts of radioactive material not being handled correctly and with care. The threat of harmful substances to air, seawater, and humans cannot be estimated. May even lead to the death of marine life.

Furthermore, there has been a precedent in Malaysia where a rare earth plant was shut down due to massive pollution and threatened residents’ health. Thus people in Malaysia have had a great controversy and opposition to the building of the rare earth extraction (Ibid).  Cloud computing has also arisen other policy issues and social issues such as data privacy, government surveillance, security.

In conclusion, the biggest beneficiaries of cloud computing are economical and usage customers, including commercial companies, and ordinary users. The reliability, flexibly and pay as you go service is the key reasons why cloud computing is so popular and essential. The capabilities and technologies of cloud computing have not only allowed businesses to reduce their expenses but also brings more benefits. Cloud computing now becomes a daily life technology that we could not live without it. On the other hand, we could not ignore that cloud computing has also brought many other issues.

By ‘Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas’ protest, we realised that cloud computing and all the electronic network technologies and products were developed based on the demand for limited material resources, with a certain degree of damage to the environment and communities. In my opinion, while Malaysian people are against the extraction of the rare earth, they also benefit from the rare earth. Their protest has been effective because cloud computing technology provides an environment for their videos and posters to be uploaded and broadcasted. Tues, I think The collision between technology and environment is inevitable.





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