How society conducts business, communicates, educates and provides certain types of services is changing for the better thanks to continued advancements with cloud based mobile applications. Suddenly the term “having your head in the clouds” doesn’t sound so bad, whether it has any relevance or not. Similar to how society at one point viewed computer geeks as being dull anti-social lowlifes (and that’s putting it lightly), many of these so called nerds later went on to become powerful CEO’s and influential global game changers. Not to rub it in or anything, OK maybe just a little, but who’s laughing now?
I suppose the point I’m trying to make is there was a time, not even that long ago really, when the majority of people never believed computer nerds, also known as dreamers and visionaries, would amount to anything. Yet, here we are in 2011 and other than the oil industry a large percentage of the worlds most profitable companies are involved one way or another in the tech, mobile or computer industry.
What does any of this have to do with cloud based apps and services? Well, there’s a whole new world of opportunites being presented thanks to tablet computers and cloud computing, things that at one point most people never could have fathomed or believed would ever be possible. Despite this, the whole concept and idea of cloud computing is nothing new, in fact back in the 1960’s John McCarthy was quoted as saying:
…computation may someday be organized as a public utility.
This quote might not sound all that significant or in-depth, but the truth is Mr. McCarthy was in fact a very forward thinker and what he said was essentially right on par with how we use, know and understand cloud computing today. The only difference is now technology has finally had enough time to catch up with such visions of the future, and tablet computers are in fact playing a huge role in this area.
Such technology and applications certainly didn’t come about overnight, but now that technology is finally advanced enough to make such things a reality, cloud based apps and services are evolving at a very rapid rate and it’s presenting an infinite amount of new possibilites. If you thought the Internet has had a huge impact on society, that was basically nothing more than a stepping stone to what we are capable of achieving with cloud based computing which is reshaping our world, making our lives much more efficient and leading to the birth of a whole new widespread technological infrastructure.
What Is Cloud Computing?
You hear the term quite often these days but what exactly does it mean? There are so many different interpretations of what cloud computing really is, not all sources are accurate and this can be both misleading and confusing. The truth is, it’s really not that complicated.
Simply put, information, virtual computing data (virtualization), resources and applications (software) which are easily and instantly accessible from any connected device (smartphones and slates for example) from practically any location worldwide can be considered as cloud computing.
Now you might ask how is this any different than the Internet model in general? Good question. Think of it like this, take email for instance. An online email account such as Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo! for example would all be considered as cloud based services. On the other hand a POP email account where you download emails locally which are then typically stored on your hard drive and cannot be accessed from any other device or location would be the opposite. Both email types require Internet access but only one type can pretty much be accessed at any time, from any place from any device.
Here’s a cloud computing diagram by Sasa Stefanovic which provides a helpful overview.
The Future of Cloud Computing
Sure we have made great leaps and strides with cloud computing over the years, a more current example would include iCloud by Apple which was announced back in June during the WWDC 2011 conference. Speaking of iCloud, Apple announced today in fact that they will be resetting their iCloud backup service this Thursday, September 22nd. In other words, the official launch of the highly anticipated iOS 5 and iCloud service is likely to be just around the corner.
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What’s the Difference Between MobileMe and iCloud?
Appcelerator is another good example when it comes to innovative cloud computing. They have just recently launched their Open Mobile Marketplace which is a service that provides app developers instant access to countless add-ons and modules to help simplify the whole process of mobile app development by providing an outlet where developers can gain quick and easy access to the tools, SDK’s and cloud extensions they need all from one easy location.
This new Open Mobile Marketplace also provides an outlet where designers and developers can buy and sell HTML 5 modules, design elements and app templates. See the Mosaic gallery template demo video below for example.
Mentioned above are only 2 of many positive examples of where cloud computing is heading, areas where it can be useful and how it is evolving. Of course when dealing with any type of technology there is always room for improvement and advancement.
The whole cloud computing model has brought up the issue of privacy on several different occassions. Not only do companies that host cloud based services have total control over the available data, they can also unlawfully monitor user activity. Yes this is a potential threat and issue for end users, but to lighten the subject a bit how about a little geek humor; If at first you don’t succeed; call it version 1.0. The fact is, although this technology is rapidly becoming widespread in reality it’s still in its infancy and rest assured privacy and security issues will slowly but surely evolve as well.
Back in May you might recall an article I wrote on future tablet computers where I mentioned the numerous advantages that the combination of biometrics and cloud based applications can have. This is not something you often hear or read about, but this is just one of countless examples of how, as advanced as cloud computing has become, we have still barely scratched the surface of what we can do with it.
However you dice it and slice it, these are exciting and very innovative times we live in. How far we’ll go with mobile cloud based apps and computing is anyones guess, but there’s no denying that there is a huge shift occurring as portable tablet computers become more deeply intigrated into how we teach and educate, access and share information, conduct business, communicate and so much more. This is having a huge impact on just about every aspect of our lives and we’ve barely seen anything yet.