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.
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.
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.
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.