Museums and Cloud Computing: Ready for Primetime, or Just Vaporware?

The promise of distributed computing has long been touted by computer scientists working on Grids or in Clouds, but is the realization of these goals finally at hand? Recently several commercial offerings have generated a lot of attention for their potential to revolutionize the way business computing is conducted. The field has already seen several interesting and innovative business models spring up with their core computing process firmly anchored in the cloud (Horrigan, 2008). Does the same hold true for museums? What are the benefits and risks associated with moving our institutional computing to the cloud? Is cloud computing a viable option for hosting the rich media and content common to many museums today, or is it still vaporware in need of more time? This paper discusses these questions and poses suggestions regarding how museums can begin to utilize cloud computing services.