With all the talk of cloud I think it is easy to get swept up in the enthusiasm for it with little consideration for those who don’t work in our industry and are just getting their heads around blogging or social media. To add to the confusion the word ‘cloud’ is being coined to cover a multitude of products in the same way that ‘broadband’ was adopted with the advent of DSL technology. We all know that there are many different kinds of ‘broadband’ and how many know the difference between ‘broadband’ and ‘superfast broadband’? The same is happening with the word ‘cloud’ and I am concerned that too many businesses are jumping on the bandwagon and marketing their product as a cloud service even though it is the same product they were selling a few years ago!
I was at a TalkTalk partner event the other week and they put great emphasis back on hosting, IaaS and PaaS – all of which are correct terminologies for the telecoms industry where we rarely get involved in the applications that sit on these platforms. We are the building blocks of where a cloud product may sit but it is in the software level that the real magic happens and there seems to be a plethora of new and existing businesses opening up in this space.
We have been running hosted desktops and servers for a few years now and I have been delighted with how it performs and the measurable benefits it gives our business. But my recent excitement has been around the development of online storage and namely Dropbox’s excellent solution. For a while I have been looking for a solution that would backup all my home documents, music and videos but also sync them with my office PC and give me the ability to view them from my iPhone or iPad. Dropbox does just that and has meant that my iPhone which has 16GB of storage can now access and view over 50 GB of data wherever I am. Yes it requires a reasonable internet connection to the make the most of it, otherwise just leaving it ticking over in the background seems to do the trick, even on a rural ‘broadband’ line.
I only came across Dropbox in relation to some research following the announcement that Google and Microsoft were entering the market place with their storage solutions; Google Drive and SkyDrive respectively. Both of which I wasn’t particularly enamoured by, Google because of its insistence to make it part of the Google platform and utilising Google Docs (and probably going through my personal files for ‘advertising purposes’). And SkyDrive because I would have to get to grips with my Windows Live login which drives me nuts and not being compatible on as many platforms as Dropbox.
So here you have a great example of a true cloud based application. Unlike remote backup it is continuously syncing all my files between multiple devices simultaneously while giving me a number of platforms on which to view my information. Pricing seems to be competitive, ok a little bit more expensive than Google or Microsoft, but the service is flawless and delivers that seamless functionality that makes you wonder how you survived without it.
Ok this might be just one of the many examples of how the new generation of internet products are responding for the demand for cloud applications and I can’t wait to see how this develops over the coming years.