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The Cloud

The Cloud
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Here in the Pacific Northwest, it appears as though we’ve officially entered into our six months of clouds (that’s right Californians, you don’t want to move here) which got me thinking about clouds even more than usual.

Many of you have been hearing about “The Cloud”, “SAAS” (Software As A Service) and “Cloud Computing” for a while, but for those who are uninitiated, it’s the idea that the software you use everyday is actually all online. GMail, GCalendar and Facebook instead of Outlook. Google Docs instead of Word and Excel. Sliderocket instead of PowerPoint. Picnik instead of PhotoShop. These are all prime examples.

Netbooks

A few years back, some braniac came up with the term UMPC – Ultra Mobile Personal Computer. A few of these have hit the market, but were plagued with being too slow and too small. Several manufacturers still make these and I know quite a few very happy owners, but they are definitely not as mainstream as traditional laptops.

Now, however, manufacturers are competing in the “netbook” arena, which are laptops that typically have 8-12 inch screens, have low power (low-ish performance) processors and smaller hard drives. The idea is that you use online software and storage services, so the smaller hard drive isn’t a problem. Since these pieces of software run in your web browser, it doesn’t matter if your computer uses Windows or some flavor of Linux. And the small screen increases battery life and portability.

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I can personally attest that I went from a 15″ laptop to a 17″ to a 19″ now back down to a 12″ and wishing it were smaller. For 99% of what I do, I prefer portability and battery life to a huge screen and I can always plug in to an external monitor for PhotoShop and Lightroom.

Trust

I have recently run into a few people who don’t trust cloud computing. I use many of these services, but still use their desktop counterparts, but mostly to provide support to others who are still using them.

This is part one of a three part look into cloud computing. Next, I will delve into resources, advantages and concerns for individuals, especially independent business owners as many of you are. Finally, I will take the same critical look from the side of business owners and IT departments in relation to their employees and contractors.

If you have any specific concerns you would like to see addressed, please let me know in the comments.

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Written By

Nick runs a new media marketing consulting company helping real estate professionals learn how to implement new media tools into their marketing arsenal. He frequently gives presentations on generational marketing, green marketing and advanced online promotion. Nick is active on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Missy Caulk

    October 3, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    I just started using GoogleDoc’s to follow the transactions. My assistant adds what she has done and both myself and the client can assess it. Love Google Calendar, both for a TEAM calender and personal one.

    Right now you would have to pry my hands off outlook, but I’m open.

  2. Nick Bostic

    October 3, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    I totally understand, my relationship with Outlook is definitely love/hate 🙂 I have been forced away from it due to my corporate IT policy and I’ve found some interesting workarounds, but it does require the correct hardware/software decisions across the board. I think it will get easier to live without Outlook as time goes on though. But the details are for the next article….

  3. Missy Caulk

    October 3, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I look forward to it.

  4. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    October 3, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Nick, the resistance I’ve had in the past (but have been coming out of) is the transition to cloud computing… I’d love to hear more about transitioning (what do I do with my old data- do I store it or can it come with me in each instance? is it safe? how can i be sure? will Google take over all of the cloud computing world? how is each superior to what i’m already using?). I’ve spent a great deal of time researching and transitioning into online services, but with anything new, I have my reservations.

    I’m very excited to hear your take on all things cloudy! 🙂

  5. Mark Eckenrode

    October 3, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    this has been pretty attractive for me but the speed is what kills me. after a long day working… add up the time spent waiting for pageloads, transfers, etc and it can get ugly.

  6. Todd

    October 3, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    “…I have recently run into a few people who don’t trust cloud computing…”

    Using their logic they should have zero trust in, and never use mobile phones, since they are cloud computing.

    I have seen the exact same thing – I recommend to someone that they try Google Docs out for a week and see if it is a “80% solution” for them to abandon Microsoft Office. They stand either holding, or actually talking on their mobile phone, and say to me “Sounds risky, how do I know I won’t lose any data? Pass.”

    …Ummmm Dude, then use only landline phone from now on. Mkay?

  7. Rob La Gesse

    October 3, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I work at building “the cloud” and I really see a different adoption path – one where you can work either on, or off of the cloud. One where your data is available wherever you need it to be – where the apps can be local, or online. Th data can be manipulated locally or online. Where everything is kept in sync through Really Smart Software – even if many people are manipulating that data at the same time. We are already seeing this in many forms – Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Mosso – we are all providing some level of solution to this problem. The problem? It shouldn’t matter what computer/device I am on, or where my data “lives” – I just need access to it – and to my apps.

    As the Internet gets faster and faster, and becomes available everywhere, it won’t matter what the device is anymore – a “new instance of your computing environment” can be rapidly downloaded and utilized no matter the device. The true potential of the cloud isn’t just “my data from anywhere”, but “my environment everywhere”.

    And we are moving very rapidly in that direction!

    Rob

  8. Bob

    October 3, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Anyone ever been to DEFCON?

    I use GoogleDocs and other cloud apps, but storing the personal info of those you don’t want to have to answer to is not a good idea.

  9. John Kalinowski

    October 4, 2008 at 5:33 am

    Bob- Can you elaborate on what you meant by “storing the personal info of those you don’t want to have to answer to is not a good idea”? Thanks!

  10. Bob

    October 4, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    John,

    I do a ton of short sales. Those packages have a ton of personally identifiable info. Storing them in the cloud is a liability if my clients dont consent.

  11. Thomas Johnson

    October 8, 2008 at 9:07 am

    @ Bob: You got it! We are fiduciaries. Until there are bank level security systems for all our transactions without the cost of bank level security, I am more comfortable securing a file cabinet and locking my office. Ask Gov. Sarah Palin how she likes cloud computing after her Yahoo account got hacked and broadcast to the world by a kid.

    For a RE practitioner, what is the cost of secure enterprise cloud computing? I know that this will not be free. This is the kind of scalable solution that Realogy will be able to bring to the table. Independents will have to dig deeper into their pockets.

    The speed is excruciatingly slow when pictures are involved. Video will further bog down all the speed gains that we have seen in the past few years. I am willing to toss marketing stuff up in the cloud at negligible cost. I am not so sure that my vault needs to be hanging out there.

  12. Nick Bostic

    October 8, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Bob and Thomas, do you ever email documents? Or send them via courier? Or send them to a mortgage broker, title company or lawyer? The big problem is you can secure your data as much as possible, but when you have to work with other people, all of your precautions are typically thrown to the wind. We frequently receive documents that were supposed to go to a competitor because their courier service apparently can’t read. They protected that data as much as possible, but due to incompetence, that security was worthless.

    If you store data in your computer, it can be hacked. If you store your data in a file cabinet, your office can be broken into. If you talk about information over the phone, it can be tapped. Heck, if you store it only in your head, there are drugs to make you talk! I know, it’s extreme, but the odds of someone hacking your Google Docs account is probably about as likely as someone breaking into your office.

  13. Nick Bostic

    October 8, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Sorry, just remembered one other thing. If the health care industry is willing to trust Google to store and share our medical records (which I know from experience have even more strict regulations and fines), I think we can safely use these tools for this business.

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