What is Cloud Computing? And How to Keep Up.Wednesday June 22nd, 2011
Considering the shift from “computer” to “computing”.
From the onslaught of tablets that appeared at Computex earlier this month to the iCloud announcement that kicked off Apple’s WWDC conference, there is an overwhelming move away from the traditional desk-bound personal computer. Intel described the trend at a Computex presentation as a shift from the idea of the “personal computer” to “personal computing,” essentially eschewing the idea of a main computer as a “home-base” that is used to administer and store data for any mobile computing devices. They showed a decline in the purchase and use of stationary PCs while there was massive growth in both the purchase and use of notebook computers, tablets and smartphones. Steve Jobs, in classically strident Apple style, said at his WWDC keynote on June 6th that he sees no reason why the tablet computer shouldn’t completely overtake the traditional PC in the next few years. The rapid industry move to the idea of “cloud” computing and storage has only increased this ability to stay mobile by eliminating the need to store and access information from a fixed location thus allowing necessary data to be accessed from anywhere in the world.
What do we need to do in business to keep up with this quickly evolving trend? For one thing, get used to mobile computing. Soon, your company’s website will be accessed more often on a smartphone or tablet than on a desktop or notebook, so make sure it conveys the image you want it to. If you’re not going to spend the time and money to create a mobile version of the site, at least make sure that it is designed in a way that is easy to navigate on a 3.5 inch screen. Furthermore, users expect total accessibility to tools that they use regularly, so consider how customers use your products and how to make it easier for them. Developments like Apple’s iCloud open up a whole new realm of possibilities, allowing users “digital life” to be totally stored in off-site servers and accessed from anywhere in the world. Almost any business can benefit from the connectivity and cohesiveness that this concept can bring to their products, it’s just a matter of creativity in how we use these systems and how they can be integrated.
For starters, worries about data backup and retrieval can be remedied with any number of cloud backup services that store irreplaceable data in a huge warehouse thousands of miles away. Apple’s iCloud music match service allows us to listen to the same music library or check out the same photos on any of our devices, without having to worry about keeping them synced with each other. The real excitement, though, comes from seeing what other 3rd party developers will envision based on this technology. Imagine using a similar system to keep proprietary data synced across any of your clients devices, whether they use a web based interface or actual application installed on the device. Behemoth companies like Apple, Google and Intel have set the stage, now it falls into the hands of the masses to actually shape and develop these new technologies. In the end it’s up to us to figure out how these ideas fit into our lives and businesses, and how we can use them to become more efficient and intuitive.