SynapDx searches hundreds of thousands of genetic markers, looking for clues about autism in 880 children across 20 states. A few years ago, this would be the task of a major company or research institution. Thanks to cloud computing, the start-up in Lexington, Mass., does it with 22 people, a few laptops and an Internet connection.
“Without the cloud I’d need $1 million, plus staff, just for the computer,” said Mark DePristo, a vice president for SynapDx. Instead, his company spends $25,000 a month on computing and steadily gets more computer power as it needs it.
You already work in the cloud, too, if you use a smartphone, tablet or web browser. And you’re using the cloud if you’re tapping online services like Dropbox or Apple’s iCloud or watching “House of Cards” on Netflix.
Cloud computing, an airy term for real systems of cleverly networked computers, powers thousands of mobile games, workplace software programs and advanced research projects. These services harness global networks of millions of computers, renting and using huge amounts of computing power.