Over the past several years I have been moving more and more of my life into the cloud. Not familiar with the term?... The "cloud" is the Internet. Hosting applications and your data on servers that you will probably never see versus an internal IT department or computers in your home is living in the cloud.
The term "cloud computing" has been growing in popularity in recent times. And with good reason. Just a few years ago the risks and downside of moving your data and applications to the cloud out weighed the benefits. I believe that has now changed. And I believe the "winner" of the movement to the cloud will define the next super company.
IBM did not make the move to the PC as successfully as new competitors and lost its entire hold on the computing market to Microsoft as a result. Microsoft, my alma mater from March 1985 - February 1993 and again in late 1994-1995, faces the same risk of being unseated.
Who is the prospective heir to the throne? In my mind the top contenders are Google and Apple. Both have been taking several successful steps in advancing cloud computing and getting consumers to move their life to the web and into the cloud. Amazon is also in the hunt for software applications moving to the cloud with IT and developer services like EC2 and S3.
And Microsoft? Microsoft is playing catch up with Live Mesh and other solutions. I am baffled as to why Microsoft's strategy is to look at its belly button and buy back its own stock at a time when Google is threatening its crown jewels and is snapping up new leading technologies... Android is a serious threat to Windows and Google Docs is a serious threat to Microsoft Office. Google is experimenting and enhancing its footprint with new cutting edge services like Google Voice, Google Calendar, etc. I know more and more companies moving from Microsoft Exchange to Google's GMail platform. OWA is not a valid response to Gmail. Exchange is feeling less and less nimble when compared with GMail. And Google Gears should be sending shivers through Redmond, letting users work offline as easily as online with the Google Docs suite of applications. Just try collaborating with Microsoft Word and then try the same thing with Google Docs. Now do the same with Excel and then Google's spreadsheet. You will quickly see who is in the lead.
I didn't start down this path on my own. I walked into a conference room in our offices and saw five of our team, all in their 20's, using Google Docs as they worked together on a project. I asked why they were not using Word and they looked at me in disbelief, showing me in a few seconds how they could collaborate and do things Word could not do. We were paying hundreds of dollars per employee for a Microsoft Office license. Google Docs is free. That was some time ago. I have long since been a convert. And it is getting easier and easier to be one as Google enhances the platform. The economy and the move to lean business practices will force those who have not considered looking at relocating to the cloud to do so.
Google, Amazon, Microsoft and many small and nimble companies are working to get your attention with their cloud applications. Which ones have my attention and have become staples in my daily computer usage? More on that in my next blog.