Emerging from the Cloud

The discussion around cloud computing has primarily been fluff, inception to date. As someone who believes that 'clouds' have always existed in the form of an IBM mainframe, I have been a skeptic of all the hype. However, in the last 3 months, I am finally starting to see/believe that the notion of cloud can have some legs in certain manifestations. Three things made me a believer:

1) GoodData- I had a short conversation with the CEO of GoodData. They market themselves as a "BI Platform as a Service". More simply put, they enable any user to develop BI/analytics reports in real-time, by simply uploading some data from their local machine. However, the genius of their business model comes from the fact that they have no/limited fixed costs. If I as user upload some data, they immediately use the Amazon EC2 cloud to perform that requested work and deliver the results. Their use of the Amazon cloud is 100% variable costs (ie they only use it if I pay them to use it). A business with no fixed costs is powerful and self-sustaining for a long time.

2) iPad- When I received my pre-ordered iPad, it took me less than 5 minutes to set it up and have the exact information on it that I had on my other devices. Literally 5 minutes. I contrast that with the effort it takes to have a new laptop set up. Between re-imaging the machine, loading software, loading data, etc, it is typically a minimum of 3-4 hours. The difference is that iPad leverages a cloud of personal information (contacts, calendar, email, files, etc). From 4+ hours to 5 minutes. That is value.

3) Apple- Apple rarely (never?) uses the phrase cloud, but alot of what they are doing fits this definition. As they continue to roll-out new devices, they will use their cloud to manage the setup and application delivery. In fact, I believe that most of the data will be cloud-based for Apple devices. It is interesting that they are the only company that seems to have figured out that this is the most economical and user friendly way to service the devices.

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