For some time now, the clouds have been gathering over the computer world. Metaphorically speaking, the debate about cloud computing has been quite well balanced with optimism that it will bring much needed rain on one side and predictions of thunder, lightening and floods on the other. I am convinced that predicting the future of cloud computing is a lot like speaking in metaphors - it just doesn't make sense.
Many IT executives are noticeably becoming excited about 'The Cloud.' In its essence it is a simple idea that your data and processing is better off living on the Internet rather than in the CPU under your desk. In a world where we're storing more and more media such as documents, photos, music or videos in digital form and becoming increasingly mobile, storing all our data on the Internet or 'the cloud' offers us unparalleled flexibility and economy.
The reality is it's not unusual to find that the computer you bought only a couple of years ago can't handle today's very latest software. Given the rate of depreciation of Information technology – including processing power, storage and applications, it is increasingly becoming economically viable to use IT as a utility service – in the same way that it is easier for a household to buy electricity off the grid rather than run it's own generator. Unlike other utilities such as water and electricity, we consume the same information at home, at work and on the move, and storing it all on the Internet makes that information accessible from more places without the hassle of having to carry your PC with you. Cloud computing in all those aspects, is definitely a lucrative business opportunity.
Technology however, also has a human component to it, and despite the economics of shared information technology services, there is a general reluctance on the users part to part with their 'personal' computers. Users in general, share many personal secrets with their PCs that they would not hand over to the 'cloud.'
Even though applications such as Google Docs and Spreadsheets and acrobat.com offer PC like performance using online – on demand services, they seem to have learned from the failures of Microsoft's failed attempt at trying to lure users to upload the entire contents of their wallets and entrust it into its care. No matter how inconvenient it is to wear a thick, coin-filled and heavy wallet in your back-pocket or carry a hefty purse, people will not part with them for the sake of convenience. These gods of the web have since learned more about respecting their users' personal space.
Cloud computing on the other had is amassing considerable support and acceptance in the corporate world. Businesses have been eager to cut costs and streamline their IT departments by purchasing specialised services such as storage, communications, applications management and networking solutions on the Internet rather than hire entire teams of professionals to manage those services internally.
Cloud computing – despite some predictions of doom and gloom – is here to stay and take the computing world forward into a leaner, meaner and hopefully smarter future, but the haze will not settle over the very personal 'personal computer' any time soon and that's just as well.
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