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Send in the Clouds (Part Two)
Okay, now I KNOW that you have seen the “To the Cloud” commercials – people in airports, department stores, and traffic jams, etc. all working seamlessly on computers that know everything they need to and respond instantly. I wrote recently about storing your data in the Cloud so that it can be retrieved effortlessly from any computer. What is coming in tandem with that technology, though, is also the ability to use software that isn’t installed on your computer.
There are many popular software packages that you use every day (a word processor, probably some sort of spreadsheet application, a personal data/calendar/phone book application) that are installed on the computer that you use most often. But what about those applications that you DON’T need everyday but when you want them you REALLY want them (PowerPoint is the one that always does it to me)? Or complex implementations that require routine maintenance that you don’t want to bother upgrading all over your network (Salesforce is probably the most recognizable title)? Microsoft has spent years developing the road to their SharePoint platform where Windows Live membership will give you access to its complete suite of Office programs.
The software model that works with The Cloud most effectively is the Subscription, or Seat Lease model that allows the user to subscribe to a software application when needed and pay for a unique login identifier that will allow him or her to use the software for a period of time and then discontinue the subscription when it is not needed. A company may require a number of “seats” for a team to work on a project and then scale back when the project is complete. An individual user may use a product for a day or a year without having to install anything on the computer they are using. For that matter, it wouldn’t matter what computer they were using because the software is in the Cloud and accessed by login rather than called up from the hard drive. This model has been tagged as SaaS — Software as a Service.
Smaller computers with greater horsepower for Internet usage will be the accepted norm. Users will expect software engineers to keep everything up to date with updates happening in the dead of night – no more “Updates Available” messages. Today’s kids will work and play in a world where they use computers as everyday appliances that exists just to make their lives easier and the learning curve to be able to get the most from that appliance will be non-existent.