Obscured By Clouds was the title for the 1972 hit album by prog rockers Pink Floyd. It is also a very apt description of the current state of the IT industry. The Cloud is aptly named, there are as many definitions of it as there are uses. To the man in the street it may seem unimportant, “it doesn’t involve me, it is just a new fangled thing for big corporations.” This thinking is very wrong. The cloud directly effects virtually every user of technology devices. Smartphones, Tablets, eReaders, Computers, you name it, the cloud has an involvement.

The cloud has been the clarion call for some time. In a move that should surprise no-one Google has finally jumped into the fray. This morning the company unveiled their latest product  Google Drive.

I quite frankly was completely uninspired. I am used to Google products having a wow factor, maybe I am missing something, but I honestly do not see the wow factor here.

Sure it is nice that they are giving everyone 5gig of online storage for free, or 100gig for $5 per month, but so what?

Is this really what the cloud is about? A place to just store stuff? I think not. Google Drive is not cloud, it is just a USB thumb drive that you don’t need to hang around your neck and look like a nerd in public. I cannot see Google Drive being much of a game changer. The whole point of the cloud is to offload not just storage but compute power. I don’t see much compute power here. Sure, it can sync files, but a gazzilion companies can do this. Sure, you can load up a video and rather than someone having to download it, they can stream it, but isn’t that exactly what YouTube (another Google piece of real estate) does?

Do not get me wrong, I am a fan of most Google products, but this one leaves me a little cool. I have been using Gmail for years, in some ways I treat it as my Google Drive. It is a great spot to store data of any description, vids, music, pictures, even programs (just change the file name from .EXE to EX_ or whatever). So what does Google Drive do for me? Actually the question more important is what does Google Drive do for Google?

That is a much bigger question. The simple answer is that it gives them more data to mine. Google in many ways reminds me of the 1986 movie Short Circuit and the delightful robot Number 5 exclaiming “Number 5 is alive” and his incessant demands “More input, need more input.”

It seems unlikely that many companies will be headed toward Google Drive. They are already leery of the Public Cloud, and so I doubt that they relish the idea of having their data mined.

There is little doubt in my mind that right at this moment there are a large number of IT professionals reaching for the bottle of Tums. Enterprising employees are going to install it, and corporate data will go flying.

It will be interesting to see how Google Drive develops. Google Plus was not quite the FaceBook slayer that it was touted to be, Google Doc’s is cute, but it certainly has not unseated Microsoft Office, and Google Drive is a very far cry from what other vendors have on offer in the Cloud Computing arena.

On the upside. Hey, who doesn’t want 5gig of free storage? I clicked the ‘yes’ button and it was done. No tedious forms to fill out. So for ease of use it scores an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Simon Barrett   

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