Cloud Computing Redux

A year or so ago I railed against the cloud. Or rather, I railed against the paid cloud. Notwithstanding the fact that even then I was already paying for the cloud.

The subject came up during the Freedom To Connect conference. We were sitting around having lunch, several pretty hard-core networking types and somebody was grousing about cloud computing. “It’s not secure!” “It’s slow!” “What if you’re not connected to the Internet?”, (this at a conference of which the entire point was being connected all the time at ultra-high speed). But, I’m Cloud-Boy.

web site hosted at my ISP
eMail hosted at my ISP
virtual disk iDisk hosted at MobileMe
project management BaseCamp
time cards Harvest
Calendar Google Calendar
RSS reader Google Reader
word processing Google Docs (occasionally)
invoicing QuickBooks via eMail

Then there are the mandatory online applications when dealing with the federal government:

  • Employee withholding and tax payments
  • Applying for federal grants at Grants.Gov
  • NIH Commons for managing those grants once you’ve got them.
  • Electronic Funds System for drawing down funds.

Unfortunately, our state of Vermont is far behind… they actually require paper for virtually every step of the grant application and management function. Hmm….I wonder if you can file for a gay marriage license online?

I guess the point is that you’d be nuts not to take advantage of some hosted applications, and even if you are dead set against the cloud, you might be using something in the cloud and barely realizing it.

As usual, the MobileMe suite of applications from Apple have a little extra. Theoretically at least, you can sync your Safari links, and dashboard applications. (I still can’t get the dashboard apps quite right). The iDisk is effective in that it essentially mirrors one or more folders that are present on a particular machine, my desktop iMac for example, and replicates that disk to one or more other machines. (can work for Windows too…although I haven’t tried it. ) The neat thing about the iDisk though is that there is still a local copy of the folders on each machine. This unloads many of the objections to Cloud Computing…the notion that if you aren’t connected, you don’t have access to your files. True disk transfer happens at “FTP” speeds, so sometimes it takes awhile to sync with the cloud.

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