The Cloud – a most misunderstood concept
There is much talk about the cloud and it has now hit mainstream media. So now we get pieces such as this from Ruchard Waters and Chris Nuttal in the FT suggesting the end of the PC. The end of something means it disappears. This is ludicrous. In fact from the same article Jobs is quoted, and his quote is far more accurate than the premise of the article.
Introducing Apple’s iCloud, Mr Jobs delivered what appeared to be a carefully scripted line designed to nudge the venerable personal computer – in all its guises – closer to retirement: “We’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device.”
I believe it is important to stay focussed on what ‘the cloud’ means. In simple terms it means having an alternate hard drive that follows you around no matter what device you are on.
That in itself does not mean your PC is replaced by a dumb device that only works online. It can, but it does not have to, and that direction is not yet set.
For example to take one extreme, I know of one accountant firm in Toronto that has adopted a service from Telus that provides everything online including the OS. Clearly this was sold as a cloud service. This is just dumb. The poor folks with this service must log into windows running on some remote server and run everything from that server. There is time to grab a coffee while this system gets itself running, when compared to running a local SSD drive.
That is not the cloud. That is thin client and an entirely different discussion, but not according to Telus apparently.
The cloud is a mix of local and online. The mix ought to be transparent. Most of us use the cloud today, with examples being yahoo mail and gmail, dropbox, and a new arrival Amazon Cloud Player. The point of these services is that your local experience is super fast because you have a fast computer, and a superb browser (Google Chrome is my choice). Another cloud example for me is my hardrive back-up to Amazon S3. It happens automatically every 15 minutes in the background. If I lose or replace my laptop, I simply restore all my files from Amazon and am up and running in minutes … repeat minutes. It also allows me to read and work with my entire hard drive from my iPhone no matter where I am. This has saved me on more than one occasion.
My point is that cloud must represent an improvement and while it will change the PC and allow many who mostly browse to move to tablets, it will not retire the PC. An important distinction.