I recently watched a video entitled Cloud Computing 101, and I couldn’t help but think to myself, “How many people out there are so seriously confused by cloud computing to warrant a 101 instructional video?”. Is cloud computing really THAT much of an enigma? Is it so foreign of a concept it requires a college freshman level tutorial? If you are one of the rare people out there that has no idea what cloud computing is, I simply ask you three questions. Have you ever used Hotmail ? Have you ever used Gmail? And have you ever clicked on a link in a website and downloaded a file? If you answered yes to any of these, you have used cloud computing. See, that’s not so mysterious, is it?
All security concerns aside, I have been “in the cloud” for a couple of years now. I recently got a new laptop and the seller was confused as to why I didn’t want a powerful desktop or a huge hard drive in the laptop. I simply stated I didn’t need it; I keep all my files on the Internet. I was met with a blank stare. With sites like Pandora, Picasa, and Hulu, I no longer even keep mp3s, pictures, or video files on my laptop. However, there is still one company who would like for you to keep things local (though they are taking steps to change that, but I feel it is more out of the spirit of competition than out of a true desire to do so). Microsoft Office files are, in my humble opinion, the bane of cloud computing and Software as a Service, or SaaS. Over the years, Microsoft Office has gotten so complex, so bloated, and so proprietary, that most people are forced to store files locally on their computer. Have you ever tried to export a really well formatted Word document or Excel spreadsheet to Google Apps? The process is so ineffective and frustrating, I might as well have just written the whole thing from scratch! I understand that Google is partly to blame for the issue; maybe their software should be a little more robust to make the transition easier, but Microsoft has not helped things much. As it stands, I strive diligently to convert all my Office files to Apps, Box.net, or ZOHO environments, but I still have to keep an old copy of Office on my laptop for those numerous occasions where the cloud vendors can’t shine through.
The video I mentioned above was done by the one Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal fame. Now, I am not saying that Walt is by any means unfit for the job of Principle Technology Columnist for the Journal, but after watching his 101 video, some captured conversations with Apple’s Steve Jobs, and his decidedly horrific column on What You Need in a Laptop, I have come to the conclusion maybe, just maybe, Walt is just a little bit out of touch with the Personal Technology community. I mean, seriously Walt, when you have puppets on YouTube rehashing your interviews, you may want to reevaluate your reporting strategy.