Monday, June 20, 2011

Party to Mostly Cloudy

The recent announcement by Apple confirms that our computing future will soon go from partly to mostly cloudy. For more than a year now I have been discussing in this column the “cloud” and how it is changing the way we keep and use our digital stuff. If you missed earlier columns, cloud computing refers to storing our data, i.e. documents, photos, videos, music, all our digital stuff, on large servers in some remote location and connecting our computer, phone, iPad or other device via the Internet. Before the cloud, all of this stuff was stored in our devices.

There are many benefits to using the cloud. Since the remote servers are operated by large tech-savvy companies, they provide a level of back up well beyond what most of us have. Even if we do have the capability to back up our files, many of us just forget or put it off to tomorrow often with dire consequences. The cloud servers handle all of that for us.

Another benefit is that all of our materials are always available. Before the cloud, if I had a song on my MP3 player and wanted to play it on my laptop, the song needed to be stored on both devices. With the cloud, the song is available to any of my devices.

There is one aspect of the cloud that needs to be emphasized. You must be connected. You must have an Internet connection, either hard wired or wireless, to access your information. That being the case, important information that you may need in an emergency should be stored locally on a regular storage device as well. That way, if you do not have an Internet connection, that information is still available.

Apple is taking the cloud to new heights (sorry, I couldn’t resist) by essentially making the cloud invisible. In previous iterations of cloud computing, you needed to actively decide where you wanted your files to be stored. Apple is simplifying this process by developing applications that automatically store all files on the cloud. When you turn on your iPad or iPod or iPhone, the device knows that your stuff is on the cloud. When you create a document or take a picture or record a video, that material is stored there automatically. You don’t have to remember where you put it and you don’t have to “synch” your devices. They do it automatically. So that picture you took on your iPhone can be viewed on your laptop or iPod.

Apple’s endorsement and, more important, their skill at making the user experience intuitive and easy will advance the cloud concept. It will soon go from a novelty to the standard for storing and accessing all our digital stuff.

Labels: , ,


Anonymous MikeD said...

This really makes sense, Jack. It can work well in the urban and suburban areas, but our more remote (or underserved)locations cannot take advantage of cloud computing because they're not connected. I wonder if I'll see universal high-speed wireless connectivity in my lifetime?

12:18 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home