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Top 5 Screens of 2010 – #2 Cloud Computing

The number two “most important screen” of the new year isn’t really a screen at all.

Or more accurately, it’s every screen.

If you haven’t heard the term “Cloud Computing” before, that’s okay. It seems at first glance to be little more than a buzzword. And it is a buzzword. But to many,  it’s also the future of computing. It will change the way businesses and consumers alike use their devices and access their information.

What is Cloud Computing?

According to this article from Infoworld, the problem with Cloud Computing, much like “Web 2.0,” is that everyone uses the term, and nobody means the same thing.

So what do I mean when I talk about Cloud Computing?

Well, if something is “in the cloud,” it’s online. The internet is the cloud, basically. When you listen to streaming music on Pandora, when you watch streaming TV on Hulu, when you watch an instant movie on Netflix, you’re accessing media that’s in the cloud.

In fact, as I type out the first draft of this story, I’m using Google Docs. There’s no word application installed on my computer. The document doesn’t exist anywhere on my hard-drive. It’s on some unknown server out there.

It’s in the cloud.

Years from now, it will likely seem ridiculous that people carried around “their own” computers and “their own” data everywhere they went. In the future computers will be little more than faceless portals to the cloud- a place where all our data is, where all our media is, where all the information is. We’ll have access to everything, all the time, wherever we go.

Online Applications. (Software as a Service)

We started to see this aspect of cloud computing rise in popularity during 2009. Google Docs, which has been around for several years, along with Microsoft Office Live and other such services are asking us–or letting us, depending on how you look at it–move our basic applications and documents onto the internet.

Why would we do that, you ask?

Well there are a number of reasons. The main one is so that you’re not tied down. Ever. Work can be done from any computer, anywhere in the world. All you need is internet access.

Businesses won’t need servers. They may not even need IT departments.

Juggling different devices will become arbitrary. It won’t matter what device you have with you. Going from your phone to your laptop will be seamless. There will be no transfer of data, because there will be no physical data to transfer. It all stays put, in the cloud, and you just tap into it whenever you’d like.

Google, Apple, Microsoft– Everyone’s betting money on Cloud Computing. Bloggers and magazines are lauding it as the immediate future of technology. And yet, sales are not booming. This is a fascinating article on the disparity between what people and businesses say in polls about cloud computing, and what they say with their pocketbooks.

And yet, I believe this will be the year when we’ll truly start to see a paradigm shift. The rise in popularity of netbooks, online applications, and mobile computing are all signs pointing the way to a future that’s more all-pervading than it is portable, where your data follows you, whether you like it or not.

There are so many resources available on the topic, if you’re interested. Below are just a few.

Resources

Cloud Computing Wikipedia Entry

What Cloud Computing Really Means

Protect Open Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing Sales Slow

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