Yesterday we spent some time going over a brief definition of the Cloud, some of its history and why everyone is scrambling to adopt Cloud services. Today, we’re going to take a practical look at what it means to the average user to have access to Cloud services. So, let’s take a look at how the use of Cloud services would impact a typical day in the life of a typical user… me!
Last week I was in downtown Manhattan; I had a few meetings around Wall Street and Chinatown. Since New York is largely a walking around town, I was running from one meeting to another. It was a cold, rainy, windy day so it was taking longer than normal to get from one place to another, and meetings that were well spaced are now just possible if I move fast. As I headed towards my next to last meeting of the day, it struck me that a document I had created recently would make an important point and would be very useful. But I didn’t have a copy on me. What could I do?
The person I was meeting with worked at a firm with a very locked down computing environment. They didn’t have a wireless network, and it was unthinkable that they would allow me to hook up my own computer… even if I had it with me. The only thing I had with me was my phone. Hmmm… I could get to the web (sorry it’s the Cloud now isn’t it?). I didn’t want to stand in the rain spending a lot of time downloading files to my phone. Besides even if I got to what I needed, I don’t want to just show him the file on my 4” screen, and if I handed over my phone to the on-site IT tech I would probably have to debate policy (you want me to plug your PHONE into our network?), MAYBE get the file printed, … too much of a distraction since I only had a limited amount of time to meet. What to do?
If I worked for a firm that had an office nearly, I might pop into that office and see if I could beg access to an authorized computer, but that’s not an option. I think,”What about an internet café?”. So, I fire up the smart phone and use an on-line application to locate any nearby cafés…. success! There’s one on Mott street that’s more or less in the right direction. I head towards it and thin about my next step. Once I get there I’ll have access to the internet and hopefully a printer. While I don’t have my laptop with me, I remember that a few months back I was complaining about the lack of a good backup solution for laptop users. The firm’s IT department had tried a few solutions, but they didn’t work very well. I wasn’t the only one complaining about the problem. The entire sales force used laptops as their primary computers, but weren’t overly computer savvy, so they needed a really robust solution. The answer from IT (at least while they gave the issue more thought) was to approve a Cloud-based (at the time Internet-based, but that’s so 2010) backup and storage solution.
A café few minutes later I get to the café, and ask for a computer. I get charged $1.50 for 15 minutes use, and log on to the backup service. There is a bit of security back and for to get my file… which is a good thing. While computers swap files, I order an order of Miso Pork (I didn’t get a chance to grab lunch) and a cappuccino to go. I find the file I need, print it out, access my Gmail account and send myself a note to expense the $1.50 Internet charge, and finish lunch… before the 15 minutes are up. I double check that no files were left on the computer, logged off all accounts, took all copies of printouts, and signed out. I’m off to the next meeting!
Nothing in this story is rocket science; rather it is an example of things that happen to real people in real corporations. You need to get something basic (a file, an email, a piece of information), but can’t because of the limits of policy or technology. I could find the computer I needed, access a file, print it out and start my next T&E without ever directly touching any technology or facilities that corporate ever touched. While many have tried, I cannot imagine any single corporation providing these resources and developing these applications on their own. What have we learned? What have we learned? We learned that any single firm is not able to develop cost effective, quality Asian fusion cuisine that comes close to anything in Chinatown… sorry. We’ve learned that the Cloud can offer services that are either more effective, more available, or just numerous than any single firm can deploy. There are dangers… in this case I could have left files on an “outside” computer, left myself logged into my accounts or just left copies of my printout lying around in a public place. All in all, the benefits definitely outweighed the risks. Tomorrow we will wrap up this story arc with more information on the Cloud. But for today… that’s my Niccolls worth!