Since the mass proliferation of the Internet in the mid 90’s, software – traditionally installed on the PC or local server – has been shifting from running locally on the computer desktop to globally via the web browser. There has been a consistent, pervasive movement which has progressively changed the way that businesses engage with their customer and staff. The thing is though that it’s been so gradual that it’s a paradigm creep rather than a shift.
Over the last decade, this pervasive process has had many names including Application Service Provision (ASP), Software as a Service (SaaS) and more recently the phrase Cloud Computing has entered the common vocabulary.
We’re going to hear a lot more about Cloud Computing from now on. Why? Because early on this week a story has broken effectively announcing that Microsoft has acknowledged that the days of the operating system – in a box, on your desktop – are numbered. With their exposure of a project code named ‘Midori’ we get the first real sign that Microsoft is seriously planning the move from the traditional Operating System to the Internet Cloud, (it has dallied with the idea of making your documents available on the web before, but without a shift from the OS).
So what does this mean for the average Microsoft Office user? The simple answer is that someday, probably in the not too distant future, we’ll all be using our web browser to do our word processing, spreadsheet building, and slide presentations, and rather than storing files on our PCs or in-house office servers, they’ll be held in great big data centres, quite literally on the other side of the world.
But so what’s so special about this? Hasn’t Google been providing web based word processing and spreadsheets for some time already? The answer is yes, of course. But whereas Google has been providing these services as market testers (some might say spoilers biting at the heels of Microsoft), it’s not a paid for services and is cross subsidised by Google’s core ad based search. What’s got people talking is that this is Microsoft’s core business and when they make the move to Cloud Computing there will be a naturalised paradigm shift the likes not been seen since the move from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95.
At Quba we’ve been doing stuff in the Internet Cloud since the beginning of the decade. In 2001 we built Vauxhall and Renault car dealerships with a web based insurance system, (back then they were called extranets). In 2004 we delivered an end-to-end customer relationship management system for the New Technology Institute which powers their public web site, with a backend office that still sits at the heart of their business processes today. Symphony, our Internet Cloud Event Management software services events ranging from NHS conventions to the Church of England’s Lambeth Conference.
Whilst writing this blog article my Daughter Grace aged 6 asked me what I was doing. I said I was writing an article about clouds. She went quiet for a while and after 10 minutes she gave me the picture, rendered in Microsoft Word, and proudly displayed at the top of this article. No doubt it will be Grace and her generation that will take Cloud computing for granted.