Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting



Cloudy with a Chance of Information Rain…

Suddenly, “Cloud Computing” seems to be bursting out everywhere.  The basic concept has been drifting around for some time, but recently the computing skies have been darkening for an apparent gathering downpour.   What do these information clouds really hold?  Some info-casters say they will soon store all the information that our desktop and laptop computers currently store.  But why would I want to pay someone to store all the information that my local little-bitty cloud can currently store for free?  Do I want the extra assurance that this big cloud in the sky is somehow more reliable than my local cloud?  However, I’ve already given my own little cloud a companion backup cloud in case something goes awry.  Frankly, I’ve never found a good reason to trust those big puffy corporate information clouds drifting by.  They too can have their vagaries of when and how they respond to my requests for information rain or when they choose to pretend not to know anything at all about me.

Of course if you are in a large group environment, such as a medium-sized or larger corporation, there may be advantages in reliable centralized storage where everyone can access and share information.  The question then may be whether a bigger cloud is more reliable and less susceptible to undesired intrusions.  Even then, is it more cost effective than a smaller cloud that is locally maintained and managed?

While these potential -- and mostly financially driven -- advantages cannot be denied, are they sufficiently compelling to create the behavioral shift that will be needed to move us from smaller local information clouds to great big sky-filling ones that will be created and supposedly maintained for our benefit by a few humungous corporate entities?  My personal conclusion has been that I will not make any changes in how I work with my desktop and laptop computers until I see advantages that I cannot readily implement on my own. 

To add a bit of perspective to this discussion, consider the recent history of the tablet computer.  Microsoft introduced and promoted a version of this concept several years ago.  At every presentation by a Microsoft manager, the speaker held a tablet in the crook of one arm and used a pen pointer with the other hand to advance the slides.  It looked quite uncomfortable and did not provide any advantage anyone could see.   Beyond that there was really no reason to do word processing, spread sheets, or presentations on a tablet – tasks that could be done easier on a laptop or desktop computer with a keyboard and a mouse.  So in the end, we all took a good look and walked away. 

Then along came Apple with the iPhone and the era of the touch screen and “apps” was born.  Once this happened, the realization grew that with all the information now being accessed and downloaded a larger version of an iPhone display could be an interesting product.  Suddenly, in this new “information acquisition” mode the tablet becomes a useful device.  Microsoft was working from the viewpoint of the PC where the device is primarily used to create information such as Word documents whereas Apple recognized the new paradigm where the device is used primarily to acquire information.  This fundamental change in thinking about how this device can be used allowed a failed concept to become a highly successful product category.
Is it possible that Apple can do this again with Cloud computing?  Recent news releases hint at an approach that could introduce a capability that would cause even someone as conservative as me to move all my data into this big Apple-shaped cloud in the information sky.  As I understand some of the announcements, Apple will create a capability that will allow us to effortlessly have any of our information accessible on each and every device we own.  So, for example, if I take a photo with my iPhone, it will instantly be available on my laptop and desktop computers.  If I download a song on my iPod, it’s also available on all my computers.  No more transferring of information onto a flash drive and then loading it onto other devices.  And, of course, other family members could also be connected to this personal cloud.   

Suddenly, even in rainy and cloudy Seattle this cloud computing stuff begins to make sense and look exciting.  Perhaps, it just took someone with a new perspective to convert a brute force, mostly financially driven, concept into something exciting and highly useful to each and every one of us.  
Should you wish to share your thoughts on this topic or others, you may contact me directly from this site, by e-mail at or by telephone at 425-898-9117.