Social Cloud

Social Cloud: Social Networks and Cloud Computing Connections

Millions of people are connected to the Internet and a lot of those people are connected on social networking sites.

Social networks have become an excellent platform for sharing and communication that reflects real world relationships.  Social networking plays a major part in the everyday lives of many people. Facebook is one social networking site that has more than 400 million active users. The possibility of social media and cloud integration is compelling.

Social networks are being more than an online gathering of friends. It’s becoming a destination for ideation, e-commerce and marketing. For instance, there are some organizations and integrated applications that make use of Facebook credentials for authentication rather than requiring their own credentials (for example the Calgary Airport authority in Canada uses Facebook Connect2 to grant access to their WiFi network).

There is a certain report which aims to create a Social Storage Cloud that looks at probable mechanisms to be used in creating a  dynamic cloud infrastructure in a Social network environment. It is believed that combining the pre-established trust with suitable incentive mechanisms can be a way to generate sustainable resource sharing mechanisms.

Social network is a dynamic virtual organization with inherent trust relationships between friends. This dynamic virtual organization can be created since these social networks reflect real world relationships. It allows users to interact, form connections and share information with one another.  This trust can be used as a foundation for information, hardware and services sharing in a Social Cloud.

Typically, cloud environments provide low level abstractions of computation and storage. Computation and Storage Clouds act as building blocks where high level service Clouds and mash-ups can be created. Storage Clouds are often used to prolong the capabilities of storage-limited devices and provide transparent access to data from anywhere.

A large number of commercial Cloud providers like Microsoft Azure, Amazon EC2/S3, Google App Engine, and smaller scale open Clouds like Nimbus and Eucalyptus provide access to scalable virtualized resources. Through pre-dominantly posted price mechanisms, these computation, storage, applications resources can be accessed.

Thus, a Social Cloud is a scalable computing model wherein virtualized resources contributed by users are dynamically provisioned amongst a group of friends. Users may choose to share these resources freely and make use of a reciprocal credit-based model; This compensation free model is similar to the Volunteer computing approach, where guarantees are offered through customized SLAs.  However, accountability through existing friend relationships exists in this model.

By leveraging social networking platforms, people can gain access to huge user communities, exploit existing user management functionality and rely on pre-established trust formed through user relationships.

This article is an excerpt from “Social Cloud: Cloud Computing in Social Networks” by Chard, K.; Caton, S.; Rana, O.; Bubendorfer, K.; The full article can be found here.

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