Lately cloud computing has been getting a lot of buzz. It is a giant umbrella for either hosting your applications "out on the Internet" or acquiring software hosted by someone "out on the Internet".
It is actually quite funny in a way. An evolutionary happening is being sold as a revolution.
The cloud has been there for years. The hype is newer.
A large percentage of people don't really understand computers, hardware, software, networks and the Internet very well at all. They really don't care where something is running or where the data ends up as long as:
It is easy to use,
It works and I can use it whenever I want, and
It doesn't cost a fortune.
This has been true since the dawn of mainstream computing for the masses and is only getting worse as people grow up using computers and devices as black boxes from childhood. Remember, only the IT folks really pay attention to the technology.
The Cloud Means...
To me cloud computing really means that the user should not have to care where there application or data is other than in a generic sense. It could be a PC, it could be a client on the corporate network, it could be browser based and out there on the Internet or it could be running on your smart phone... it could be a combination of all of these and more.
The Death of Desktops
Over the last 20 years I have heard about the death of desktops, the rise of thin clients, centralized, decentralized, and vice versa. Hey none of this is new... and mainframes are still around too.
If I have a portable movie player linked to the Internet via a wireless connection, it doesn't mean I will throw out my big screen TV, surround sound stereo, and Blue Ray player. It more likely means that I will want to also watch Internet content in both places, but expect it to be better on the big system.
A car is not transportation to some. Some are willing to buy better cars and some are minimalistic.
Desktops or their replacements will be around as long as they offer some additional value.
The secret is making the desktop work with the cloud invisibly.
If I buy a subscription to a word processor, do I really care where it is running. Not if the price and functionality are the same. In fact, sell the SaaS and desktop version in the same subscription. When you are on the road you get the essentials, when you are in the office you get the premium. Both have the same storage options (local, corporate or cloud). See! Now I don't care.
What is really changing is pricing models, but that is another topic. Smart companies strong on the desktop have an advantage over pure Internet... they can do both if they want. They just have to change their overall pricing models. It is the pricing model that could kill the desktop if things don't change.
(Hey, I just like this word.)
The real meaning, lets get on with making it so people don't need to care how it works or where it works... it just does.
Remember, only us techies really care about how it works... and that increases our value not hinders it.