The global cloud-computing market is expected to reach $241 billion in 2020, up from $41 billion in 2010, according to Forrester Research. That long-term potential is reflected in the highflying stocks of companies actively involved in the concept.
A stumbling block, however, is concern over the security of data when a client firm can no longer control it on its own premises. Hackers and crashed systems are, after all, among a company’s worst nightmares.
And while the cloud is a definite boon to smaller firms, more established companies have already made significant investments in equipment and staffing. There is also confusion over what cloud computing really is and who provides it.
The field’s successful pioneer is Salesforce.com Inc., a well-managed company that over the last decade effectively introduced this cost-saving business model. It offered a monthly subscription service that allowed firms to simply go to their Web browsers, point to salesforce.com and begin using it. That turned out to be a good financial deal for its clients as well as for its shareholders.
Scholars in the growing field of digital humanities can tackle this question by analyzing enormous numbers of texts at once. When books and other written documents are gathered into an electronic corpus, one “subcorpus” can be compared with another: all the digitized fiction, for instance, can be stacked up against other genres of writing, like news reports, academic papers or blog posts.
One such research enterprise is the Corpus of Contemporary American English, or COCA, which brings together 425 million words of text from the past two decades, with equally large samples drawn from fiction, popular magazines, newspapers, academic texts and transcripts of spoken English. The fiction samples cover short stories and plays in literary magazines, along with the first chapters of hundreds of novels from major publishers. The compiler of COCA, Mark Davies at Brigham Young University, has designed a freely available online interface that can respond to queries about how contemporary language is used. Even grammatical questions are fair game, since every word in the corpus has been tagged with a part of speech.