Growing the cloud

Lately, more of the activities that I do online is in the cloud.

So what online activities am I doing?

I use file storage like dropbox as a digital locker to store and share large files. This syncs with your computer and your mobile devices. At work, we use Sharepoint to share files, collaborate on word and excel documents online and save them back into the system. Having the files online makes it easier to access and also ensures there is only one copy people will work from.

When I want to listen to music, I jump onto YouTube and type in my favourite artist and find songs that I like. I’ve been mixing it up lately between MySpace, Grooveshark, Hype Machine, and Soundcloud. To be honest, I don’t have that much music on my computer. I mostly stream it from the cloud because there is an infinite collection online, fast access and play lists.

I spend a lot of time online also watching videos. Again, I love my YouTubes! But there’s also Vimeo and a bunch of other sites you can stream from. I look at my friend’s photos not on their computers but via Flickr and Facebook. That’s where we store our photos and share them with others.

What is the cloud?

The cloud is defined as:

The use of a Web services such as Flickr, Google Docs to perform the functions that were traditionally done with software installed on an individual computer.”

– Penn State Learning Hub Community Glossary

Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand, like electricity.”

– Wikipedia

There is a big push from the digital industry to go cloud. Consumers are already there. Enterprises have started to as well. Its only a matter of time before all of our online activities are in the cloud.

What are the benefits of being in the cloud?

1. Not having to install software on your machine. When was the last time you had to update Gmail? Our corporate email has regular maintenance and scheduled downtimes. Now, computers all about getting online, as fast as possible. Deploy in the cloud = deployed everywhere.

2. Access anywhere, anytime. Of course, this is dependent on being in the range of fast internet access, so this is a coverage and bandwidth issue.

3. Mobile & Cloud is a great combo. Allows for greater connectivity and syncing between your devices. Your mobile can’t store that much compared to a desktop computer or laptop. For example, my mobile currently has 8GB memory expandable to probably to 32GB so the cloud makes sense. Being able to stream music, access files in the cloud, play games on an online network with other gamers is perfect for mobile. Fred Wilson has a few ideas here on monetizing mobile audio.

There are many other benefits for Enterprises like scalability, reducing your IT hardware costs, and IT support costs. Turns your capex into opex. There are 3 types of cloud computing – SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, but this is for another blog post.

The Cloud Agenda

There’s a really good video I watched last week about Zoho’s new cloud accounting offerring. Its similar to SaaSu, Freshbooks, etc…

What I found interesting about it, was towards the end of this video at 26min 5seconds, they discuss mobile and the cloud and the advantages of the cloud. Other cool stuff they discuss is having your car connected online and the ChromeOS Notebook (which is purely online, no software installation required).

What they are doing, whether they realise it or not is advocating the growth of cloud computing. Not just necessarily growing their piece of the pie, but the entire pie. Because its in everyone’s interest.

Consumers and enterprises benefit as more activity is in the cloud. You can see a lot of online companies now pushing the cloud agenda such as Zoho, Salesforce, Google and Atlassian. Even Microsoft has evolved their service offerring to incorporate cloud services.

As we become an increasingly connected society online, the cloud will only keep growing.

I’m out like software installation,

Matt Ho.

p.s. if you are interested in cloud computing, register for Cloud Camp on 25 Feb 2011.