“… it’s cloud illusions I recall; I really don’t know clouds at all.”
The great Joni Mitchell wrote these lyrics for “Both Sides Now” decades ago, and they are truer now than then. Especially when you apply them to computers, which didn’t even exist when Joni put pen to paper.
Perhaps she had a premonition?
I’ve mentioned cloud computing before in this blog, but let’s go over it’s definition again for those of you not under 25 or members of Best Buy’s Geek Squad.
Cloud computing allows users to access their local server resources using a computer, netbook, pad computer, smart phone, or other device anywhere, anytime. In cloud computing, applications are provided and managed by the cloud server and data is also stored remotely in the cloud configuration. Users do not download and install applications on their own device or computer; all processing and storage is maintained by the cloud server. The information is stored online instead of on a device. The on-line services may be offered from a cloud provider or or by a private organization or company.
A familiar face
Enter (who else?) that ubiquitous company known by its signature fruit: Apple.
In case you haven’t heard this ancient news — announced last week — Apple unveiled its iCloud service which will offer remote, wireless updates of music, photos, apps, and other data for iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and computers, The company refers to this as “PC-free.”
USA Today writer Jefferson Graham noted recently that companies like Google and Amazon have been working on the “cloud” always-on computer application that nests on internet servers. But Apple has taken this a step freer, offering the same service for wireless-device users anywhere.
Leader of the pack
“The iCloud service, which will launch in the fall replaces Apple’s failed $99 yearly MobileMe service, which is no longer accepting customers,” Graham wrote. “Reaction was swift: Apple’s move and its soon-to-open $500 million new data center in North Carolina, puts it in a leadership position, analysts say.”
The service was demonstrated recently at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, that mega-event for digital mavens held annually in San Francisco. It’s the favorite venue for unveiling of new Apple products and services. In the demo, Apple VP Eddy Cue shot a photo on an iPhone. He next opened an iPad and the iPhoto software on a MacBook (convenient these are all Apple products, no?) and the photograph popped up on the screen in a few seconds.
Back it up
If that isn’t enough, Apple also notes that iCloud can be used as a back-up device for all your data.
“If you get a new iPhone, just type in your Apple iD and password, and everything will be downloaded to the new phone,” explained Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Apple’s website simply notes,”iCloud stores your content and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices. And because it seamlessly integrates with your apps. everything happens automatically.”
Launching in fall
The iCloud service, which comes as part of the iOS 5 mobile operating system from Apple, is due to launch in the fall and will contain 5G of storage space. Apple says it has added over 200 new features to the updated system.
Tech writer Phil Goldenstein has probed the impact that iCloud will have on 3G networks, wondering if it will crush them. His answer: probably not.
“According to CCS Insight analyst John Jackson, Apple must have concluded that users of their products have access to Wi-Fi networks with sufficient regularity that the service will be broadly accessible,” Goldenstein writes. “But what happens if a user doesn’t have access to a Wi-Fi hotspot? Will traffic get routed over the cellular network? Or will the cloud upload just be put on hold until users get in range of a Wi-Fi access point? Apple isn’t saying.”
I think I just saw my cell phone bill increase. What else is new?