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Online Virtual Computers
By: Barzan "Tony" Antal
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    Table of Contents:
  • Online Virtual Computers
  • G.ho.st, Cloud Computing
  • More About Ghost and Alternatives
  • FanBox and Concluding Thoughts

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    Online Virtual Computers - G.ho.st, Cloud Computing

    (Page 2 of 4 )

    Even though we were teasing by not naming the service that we'll present here, chances are you've already glanced over to check the title of this (second) page. That's right, the service is called Ghost-the globally hosted operating system. The name of website is easy to remember: http://g.ho.st/-really creative idea.

    G.ho.stŪ entered the beta stage on July 2009. The company has revolutionized the consumer's perception of cloud computing. We won't get into theories, but basically cloud computing is the kind of strategy and technique that allows users to access dynamically scalable resources through the Internet. This is not something new at all; examples of such services include Google Maps, PayPal, Google Checkout, Twitter, etc.

    Despite the fact that consumers have been using those services, they usually have no idea of (nor do they care to find out) the characteristics of the components and platform that deliver what they need in real time. Each of those delivers some "niche" service, while Ghost strives to deliver a full-fledged operating system-like service. It's not a real OS, though, since it cannot interface with physical hardware (no kernel).

    From the customer's point of view, Ghost delivers, in fact, an entire OS that works. First of all, it integrates with some of the most required third-party services, such as Google Docs, Meebo, ThinkFree, Zoho, and others. With the help of these, most people have already more than the necessary applications. If you have no idea what the last two are: ThinkFree is a Java-based office suite with the look and feel of Microsoft Office. Zoho is an online web-based office suite with more than ten individual applications.

    (Ghost Desktop - Courtesy of official website's screenshot section)

    We've already mentioned that Ghost offers 15 GB of storage space. As you may expect, this is called your G.ho.st Drive, and it's the "drive" that you can access and on which you can store your data-in a fashion similar to the way you'd store it with a local disk. FTP access is also provided, which is really nice. You may be required just to retrieve the copy of your keynote right away-and fast-without logging into your Ghost virtual PC.

    Since Ghost comes from a Palestinian and Israeli joint venture, they realized the importance of supporting multiple languages. Ghost does offer that, too. The data is hosted in Amazon Web Services' professional datacenter environment. This pretty much guarantees that your data is secured, backed up, and available to you any time.

    Your Ghost VC (virtual computer) also has a web browser. Now you ask what's the point of having another browser when you're already using one to access Ghost. Well, the browser that is within your Ghost VC is yours; it can be personalized, store your browsing history, cookies, bookmarks, and so forth. You also have an e-mail address that ends with the @G.ho.st suffix. It comes with POP3 capability to retrieve email.

    It is pretty obvious that when the development team added features into Ghost, they wanted to include all of the possible applications and functions that consumers may need. Perhaps you don't need some of its components. No worries; these do not make it "bloated," and it won't slow down your virtual computer since its architecture is really different. Right now it's better to have everything ready for use.

    On the next page we'll further discuss Ghost and some other alternatives.

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