Cloud computing will get a lot more real during the year ahead. One sure sign is that Microsoft -- which makes software that cloud computing aims, to some extent, to render obsolete-is set to make three announcements.
Last year, the company introduced a cloud infrastructure called Azure. Neowin says the company will use the Mobile World Congress next month in Barcelona to introduce SkyBox, SkyLine and SkyMarket. SkyBox focuses on Web-based cell phone synching, backup and restoration services. SkyLine will offer similar services to small businesses, and SkyMarket will be the equivalent of Apple's AppStore.
TG Daily offers a cogent explanation of what Google and Apple are doing in the cloud sector. The main emphasis is on Google, which is cooking up a service called Gdrive. It is not a novel idea: Essentially, it is a platform in which the contents of a hard drive are stored in the cloud. Work done on that drive is synched with the versions stored in the cloud. The person then can later work remotely on up-to-date files. Conversely, the home or office computer is updated as the person works remotely.
Clearly, the industry is struggling to get its arms around the cloud concept and how it changes the way things were done in the past. This post by Computerworld's Mark Everett Hall gives Microsoft credit for recognizing that the world is changing under its feet. Applications no longer are run, soup to nuts, on the local machine. So it's trying to save itself by embracing the future. The blogger says the key to the company's future will be coming up with more compelling applications. Microsoft's type of office productivity applications can be operated totally from the cloud. The existence of Google Docs, Zoho and others, he says, prove this point. The key for Redmond is to come up with applications that truly need both local and cloud components.
Apple's version of the computing in the cloud, launched last year, is called MobileMe. People profess surprise when any Apple project encounters trouble, and that seems to be the case with MobileMe. According to Slash Gear, the initial rollout was rife with bumps, so Apple gave customers three months of free service. The problem is that at the end of the period, the data of people who are not extending their service disappears-from both their own devices and from its servers. The problem is that folks who didn't turn off the sync switch end up synching to files that had been emptied. The data can be restored, the story says, but not for free.
There isn't anything factualin this piece different from others on this topic. It does do two things well, however: It states unequivocally that 2009 is the year that cloud computing will come of age and become an everyday part of the lives of regular people-not just folks who work in IT, planning departments and journalists. The other interesting point that the writer raises is that the coming of Gdrive, which seems to be perceived as an inflection point by people who follow this sector regularly, will concentrate even more of a user's personal information in the vast Google's repository. The writer implies that is something to think about.