Over the last year, Web 2.0 became cloudy. Yes, once upon a time, Sergey and Larry defined their vision for Google as an effort "to organize the world’s information and to make it universally accessible." As a result of this ambitious goal, "cloud computing" as the web savants call it, has become all the rage. Move over Doppler 5000. Today, "cloud computing" has become an integral part of the interwebs’ inexorable movement into sunny weather.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with clouds of the Internet variety, I can tell you that cloud computing is a constructive metaphor for an upgraded (or improved) version of utility computing. And utility computing is the combination of computing resources, such as computation and storage, offered as a metered service, similar to the way we get power and water from a public utility. I've found that the "cloud" metaphor is used and defined broadly on the Internet, but in this case, let's stick to describing it as an updated iteration of utility computing.
In this sense, clouds are basically virtual servers spread across the Internet that extend the existing capacity and capability of a business’s tech resources. For example, think about what an IT service might need to help a business run more efficiently: improved capability to add more storage space and speed on the fly—without adding more hardware, infrastructure, or personnel...
Sounds like a good recipe for success, right? It's probably the reason that so many cloud-peddlers have popped up all over the Internet in the last year, large and small, offering increased storage, spam-filtering, and applications—in an apparent effort to level the playing field and open up the transaction of information. Just like old Sergey and Larry wanted it.
About six months ago, Business Week suggested that, "for clouds to reach their potential, they should be nearly as easy to program and navigate as the web." Sounds like something out of a preachy meteorology textbook, if there is such a thing. But truly, this statement was intended, I think, to refer to the giant clouds (like the cumulonimbus that is Google), who had not yet succeeded in offering smooth, easy access to the colossal reservoirs of information piling up on their servers. As we’ve moved forward, many companies have begun setting up in the "clouds" to mine through the accumulated data in sites like Amazon and Google. Think what smooth navigation of this information could do—in positive ways, and negative.
But with a small company like Syncplicity (that's a helluva portmanteau, eh?), we see this happening on a much smaller level, and, again, it bodes well for the leveling of the informational playing field—or stratosphere, if you want to extend the metaphor. Which you do.
Syncplicity is a company dedicated to the graceful integration and synchronization of a person or company’s database. Said another way, they are a company endeavoring to liberate people from worrying about where and how they store their important personal data. They want to speed up your computer, take away that unwieldy data and store it neatly for you… "But, where?" you ask. Why, in the clouds of course.
Syncplicity offers a program that automatically stores, backs-up, and links your documents, photos, music and video files between each of your or your company’s computers. It has a cloud-share of its own. And you can access this cloud-program online or offline, which, to my understanding, gives Web applications equal footing on the desktop.
I think Syncplicity is such a germane topic now, because the company recently launched a new iPhone application—just in time for the release of the new iPhone 3G. The beauty of their new application is that iPhone and iPod users can now access data from anywhere. Thanks again to the clouds. iPhone users with less capacity – smaller GB – can have access to photos and TV shows through Syncplicity’s optimization program. Signing up for, and downloading, Syncplicity is really easy, and the best part is that you no longer have to worry about deleting or overwriting files, as Syncplicity keeps track of deleted files, previous versions, so you can always have them. You can access them from any computer, at any time, even if your computer is not connected to the Internet. You can share any file or folder you like, even with people who don’t have the program. Pretty cool.
So the question then becomes: for Apple, is this a good thing or a bad thing? With the ability to store your data in the clouds, there’s really no need for the increased storage space of the 3G, right?
Put your head in the clouds and think about it.