I have been involved in the computer industry for almost four decades. During that time I have seen huge changes, but have I really? The computer industry is very cyclic, sure the technology gets smaller, cheaper, faster, the do more for less syndrome.

At the very core of the technology is not little black chips but rather a mindset. There are many different names for it, in the 70’s we refereed to it as the Centralized vs Distributed model. In the 80’s we talked about Client/Server models.

At the heart of the issue were two basic questions, where is the data, and who manipulates it. Does the data and power live behind locked doors in an ivory tower, or does it sit on your desk in the shape of a Personal Computer sitting on your desk?

The industry is like a pendulum it swings from one viewpoint to the other with amazing regularity. At this juncture the pendulum is very much in the Centralization part of its journey. The new in thing is The Cloud. The Cloud is not a term that the average computer user is familiar with, yet in one way or another most of us use and rely on it.

Just think about how you use your computer. If you use Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or any of the other popular email services you are using the cloud. Your email is not on your computer, it is sitting in some remote place. Your Computer is merely acting as a TV, and your mouse and Keyboard are the remote control to switch channels.

If you are one of the 600 million users of FaceBook, you are using The Cloud. Facebook does not live on your computer, again you are just watching a TV program.

I am a writer, now one would think that word-processing is one of the few non-cloud applications, and to a limited extent it is. In fact lets look at this article. It began  in a very non-cloud manner. I am siting on my front porch typing it on a glorified battery operated typewriter called a NEO. I will upload it into my word processor of choice Open Office, I’ll fix any formating issues, and then send it to the cloud.

This solution works well for me, as the saying goes, I have got the monkey off my back. Should my PC crash my data is safe.

The cloud also offers me a very big financial advantage. I can run junk computers. I do not need the latest and greatest Silicon Valley invention, the cloud does the heavy lifting, all I see are the results! It is rather like eating out, you do not need to source the ingredients, have the equipment and skills to cook them, and you don’t have to clean the kitchen up afterwards.

To a large extent it also frees me from being tethered to an Operating System and architecture. When one of my computers bites the dust, it is no problem. I just grab another from the mounting junk pile. Load it with whatever Operating System is my flavor of the month and go back about my business. I have lost nothing, my data is all safe in the cloud.

Of course you should not consider the cloud nirvana, there are occasions where the cloud fails and for a period of time some service may be disrupted. But I can live with that.

The cloud is a hot topic and I have only scratched the surface of it.

A couple of days ago I had an interesting conversation with Cloud Evangelist, Charlie Boswell. He is the director of digital entertainment for chip maker AMD. He had much to say on the subject of the cloud, in fact so much that he has volunteered to spend some time with me unraveling the mysteries of the cloud.

More on this very soon.

Simon Barrett

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