What is the model for cloud computing?

CloudsI have been watching Kevin’s "working in the cloud" experiment with great interest as it’s an area that has the potential to benefit a great many mobile professionals.  Equally as interesting are the comments that are being made about Kevin’s challenge and all of this together has me thinking about the cloud model of working.  It is apparent that working in the cloud is so new to so many of us that like many things we often have different views of what it is and why it is important.  It’s worth a discussion to see how we all view working in the cloud.

First up we should probably look at defining what working in the cloud is exactly.  I know that Kevin and my views on this differ and from the community comments so do those of many of you.  So what is it?  I view working in the cloud a lot simpler than some I’ve seen.  For me it largely entails keeping my data in the cloud so I can access from anywhere and anything.  I use a lot of systems in my work and keeping my data in the cloud could allow me to easily pick up where I left off from any system in the mix.  In this model of cloud computing applications and OSes don’t really enter into the mix that much.  Maybe all the systems are the same OS, maybe not.  Maybe the same application software is installed on all the systems in which case the cloud model is just to provide remote access to the data.  This is certainly the simplest scenario and in large part what I would look for most in cloud computing.

I won’t speak for Kevin but I know from conversations we have made on the topic he looks for more from the cloud.  He is not alone in that thought process based on the commentary we’ve seen so far and we should delve into that a bit.  Some folks view cloud computing as being totally OS agnostic, i. e. not just remote data access but also application and OS independent.  That is a valid POV and if that is the primary goal of the cloud computing challenge it greatly complicates it.  That would basically mean that everything you do must be browser-based since that is the only method that is totally independent of the system being used at the time.  Even that approach is not viewed the same for everyone as some have indicated that using browser extensions on a system to increase the local computing capabilities is "cheating".  That viewpoint is interesting to me because apparently those who feel that way believe that a plain-jane browser is the only application that you can expect to find on any computer and so that is what you must use to make a serious run at cloud computing.  I can understand that POV but I’m not sure I would agree that it is the ultimate goal with cloud computing.

I have long felt that to be the most productive you can be you must use the right tools for the job and use them efficiently.  Is foregoing the use of all tools (applications) at your disposal simply to work totally in the cloud the best way to approach your work?  See how quickly this whole cloud computing concept gets complicated and I’m not sure there is a "right" answer.  What do you think about cloud computing and how would you approach it if you were undertaking the challenge with Kevin?  Even further, how do you even define cloud computing and why?  This is getting very interesting and we need to share ideas and thoughts on this.

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