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Cloud hosting is gaining momentum as more companies are storing their documents and content into cloud. In fact, Gartner Inc. predicts that by 2012, 80 percent of Fortune 1000 enterprises will pay for some cloud-computing service. Users are uploading content into these public and private clouds to easily share, collaborate and network. Storage companies are also embracing public cloud storage service providers like Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure for daily data storage needs. Customers and users only pay for bandwidth and space that they actually use with these services.

While an increasing number of companies are testing out this low-cost and less upfront capital investment approach of storing content, the costs can pile up quickly if enough care and consideration are not taken while choosing the cloud hosting vendor. For example, the cost for uploading a 1GB document into EC2 or Azure can cost up to 35 cents and then accessing this document 4-5 times over the life span of document can cost up to $2, and this is all for just a single 1GB file. Think of the costs involved when you are uploading/downloading hundreds and thousands of documents from within your application.

Storage clouds do provide a lot of advantages like consistent backups, reduced capex, full archrivals and eliminate the needs for redundant servers or disaster recovery centers. But at the same time, bandwidth charges can soon turn the low cost storage clouds into a nightmare. What if, we could somehow store content into these storage clouds and still save on bandwidth costs? The answer is Elastic Content Viewing or in simple terms "content streaming."

Elastic Content Viewing simply means downloading from server progressively as user views the content. The concept is not new and has been effectively used over a decade now in every webpage you browse on the Internet or video/audio files that get streamed from servers. If you are viewing a video on You Tube the video is streamed to your browser and you start viewing it instantaneously without the need to download complete file locally first. While this is true for audio/ video/ images and webpages, it is not the same for documents such as Adobe PDF and Microsoft Office documents In order to start viewing a document, a user would need to click on the document first and download the entire file locally first. Meanwhile, elastic viewing allows you to view documents from where they are, without the need to download it completely, much like audio video files.

Investing in a content delivery framework goes a long way in saving you on bandwidth costs. Here are some of the advantages that Elastic viewing can offer:

1) Deliver just what is needed

Elastic viewing ensures delivery of just, and only just, the right amount of information required for viewing any given page or document section. Controlling the amount of information being viewed by user not only limits the bandwidth usage but also adds a whole new dimension of secure viewing.

2) Deliver in form which is easily consumable

Elastic viewing is based on an optimization factor -- a number calculated runtime based on a users environment and surroundings. The optimization factor for a user viewing a document on a desktop PC connected to a high speed LAN would be considerably higher than a user on a mobile phone trying to view the same document on a low speed 1G network. Elastic viewing would then use the optimization factor along with server load times, content type and document size and deliver the content in a low or high fidelity resolution formats thus delivering optimal user experience to all users irrespective of viewing device or application.

3) Deliver securely

Content encryption along with rights management can easily be added through elastic viewing and can allow easy control of printing, navigation, pan control and even saving of document -- within a work group, across departments, or with partners and suppliers outside the firewall.

Streaming of media is not a new concept, but elastic content viewing is an evolutionary step away from the traditional download-and-play model.

About the Author

Prateek Kathpal is founder of Adeptol, a leader in document viewing technology. Prior to founding Adeptol, Prateek held senior positions within the Content Management Division of EMC. Prateek has more than 12 years of experience in the ECM space and has worked with companies like NEC, JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Sapient, Cognizant and others. Prateek also founded a SaaS Content Management Venture which was acquired by a China-based company in 2008. Prateek is an Engineering graduate with an MBA in Marketing.

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