TOOLS OF THE TRADE by Erik Arnold
Director, Adhere Solutions, Inc.
Get Your Head
Out of the Clouds
Thinking Clearly About the Next Big Thing
Lost amidst the hype of the latest iPhone launch was the
“consumerization” of cloud computing by Apple. Its MobileMe
service enables users to sync email, contacts, and calendars to
a wide variety of devices. Thankfully, Apple is trying to end the
painful tasks of syncing information between desktop, mobile
phone, and websites.
T his “simple” service showcases the allure of cloud com-
puting, the popular buzzword for software as a service
(SaaS) and web services. The idea is to “rent” a service and let
Why is there such a discrepancy between cloud computing
and how most of us still work? The concept of cloud computing
is not new and has been championed, at times heavily, during
the technology company take care of the rest. You do not have the past 20 years by IBM, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and count-
to worry about the hardware, software, bandwidth, wires, secu- less amounts of venture capital dollars. While a lot of the cur-
rity, and the other myriad issues that come with a typical soft- rent press talks about this “new” frontier, a quick bit of history
ware purchase. may give business and information managers a better frame-
In addition, once you have information stored online, it is work for leveraging this important new way of computing.
much easier to disseminate and use in other applications. To
young people, the thumb generation, this is second nature.
They have grown up having their data stored online and having
their daily activities, even scandalous ones, getting sent as RSS From the early days of the web, and the first dot-com boom
feeds to their friends. They have never had to deal with such more than a decade ago, a large number of companies promot-
mundane tasks as archiving their Outlook data file, a task that ed web services as a better way to compute. As one of the heav-
can consume an entire hard drive. (I just stopped carrying iest users of SaaS service in the ’90s, I have a unique perspec-
around all of my Outlook email on a thumb drive.) tive. In my zeal for all things web-enabled, I had everything
However, to enterprise users, the benefits of cloud comput- outsourced. Internet companies received and paid my bills,
ing are still a hazy dream. When my wife accesses her corpo- hosted my Microsoft Exchange email, and online web storage
rate email from home, it is a maze of proprietary software, saved my corporate files. I was, and still am, a big believer in
VPNs, logins, and separate windows that can cause mass con- computing in this fashion.
fusion and support issues. Bless the other attorneys out there However, there can be downsides. Besides services not al-
who have to deal with such processes from their hotel rooms, ways online, the crash of the internet bubble in 2000 taught me
coffee shops, or airports. some lessons. It took me months