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Whats New In The Cloud? December 10, 2012

Posted by stewsutton in Cloud, Cloud Computing, Data Portability, Economics, Information Technology.
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The Cloud.  That vast and curious location that seems to be good for everything.  We can store our photos, our books, our music, and our various working files there.  Beyond all of that data, we can also do real computing in the cloud.  The sort of computing that we used to accomplish on large corporate computing infrastructure or even on our own personal computers.  So why does this matter?

Well, the changes and transformation of services that are being made available to both companies and individuals are affecting the way we use our computers, our laptops, our tablets, and our smart phones.  Consider some of the changes that have already been adopted by many:

  1. Keep your music on iTunes and use iTunes match to sync all of your songs across all your devices anytime and anywhere they are connected to the Internet network.  This is the cloud jukebox that you own and it is ready to play your music anytime.
  2. Buy your books on Amazon and you have a permanent digital library that spans your iPad, your Kindle, your iPhone, your computer, and any other digital device you own.  Download any of your “books” at any time from the Cloud Library and enjoy reading it on your device.  As you switch between devices the cloud keeps your location synced so that you easily resume where you left off.
  3. Photo services like Flickr and others allow you to upload and stream your photos as needed across any of your digital viewing devices.  This is your photo album in the cloud and there are many choices for your digital photo albums.  Many seem to even use services like Facebook and Twitter as a way to store and share their photos – especially photos captured on smart phones.

With these changes having become commonplace, might we consider the digital cloud to become our infinite network disk drive and the home to our favorite applications?  Probably so.  This will have the biggest impact in how we “manage” our data.  Not that long ago we probably had our important data on a local computer that was in our office or in our home.  If we were disciplined, (and cautious), we likely made some effort to occasionally back-up or copy the important information onto another computer disk so that we could recover if our computer “had a problem.”

One of the major differences in our day-to-day relationship to our data that is cloud-based is that we are not typically going to be given simple options to “copy” and “backup” of that data to our local disk.  Some services provide this and others take it a step further by offering cloud-based backup of data.  If you are with a top-tier provider of applications, and data services (e.g. Amazon, Apple, Google, etc.) your data is unlikely to disappear due to bad procedures or failed equipment.  It’s also increasingly common for new companies that offer compelling new services that sit atop the infrastructure of a company like Amazon.  So instead of reinventing all of this cloud infrastructure and operations, the new company leverages what is already a proven reliable asset.

Each of us will likely be offered new services by the top-tier cloud providers in the coming years.  These services will range from banking services and digital safety boxes to high-end applications that we generally associate with a dedicated computer.  The difference is that we will “rent” the services in much the same way that we “rent” services like phone minutes and cable TV channels.  Data portability will be one of the important characteristics that will separate the better providers from the rest.  Making sure that you can “get a full copy” of your data and move it to another cloud provider will be a key criteria for selecting a cloud provider.  As we move toward more and more cloud services, data portability should be top-of-mind for everyone.

 

 

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