No not the fluffy puffy stuff floating by in the sky. Clouds as in cloud computing. The bold exciting innovative Web2.0 way to do your Internet thang. The must have wave of the future! Meh.
Like right now I’m typing and the web browser is saving the letters in this page, but when I hit enter my words whisk away to somewhere in the Webozoid and they are not here anymore. When Comcast is down (which admittedly is rare) my words and I are separated.
And that, as Hamlet would say, “must give us pause.” The cost today of having my words zip out of my computer and go to ???? is “free” to me but it’s not really free. And when you think of all the gizmos and whatzits that have to be booted up and using electricity to accomplish the task, well it’s got to be significantly more than saving these words to a USB flash drive.
That, along with hurricane Katrina, will always make me think that have a “thin” client, even a “thin rich” client is ultimately a bad idea. The whole idea of computer networking was a response to the mainframe – dumb terminal scenario that IBM sold in the old days when tech was expensive to implement and needed to be used sparingly. But tech isn’t expensive these days. It isn’t hard to use. It doesn’t necessarily require a pocket protected tape glasses army of geeks to run either. So the idea of eliminating local servers to save money would make sense in an environment with really expensive licenses and thousands and thousand of employees. Maybe.
What seems to make more and more sense to me these days is Apple’s solution. I’ll give you a disclaimer, I’m currently a fanboy and will probably be one for a while.
When you look at the Mac Mini Server, the Time Capsule, and Airport, it makes more sense to manage your business locally. Keep your data close and occasionally make a back up to the “cloud”. Since you can use anything from a 27-inch iMac to an iPod Touch as a client, it just seems really compelling as a platform. When I crunch the numbers for such a system, it comes out to much, much cheaper than any other, including Googles Apps for the Enterprise. I used Googles comparison figures on their website, and did NOT include desktop hardware because they didn’t. 10 users will cost you $2 more a user a year for Google than it would for the Mac Mini. The biggest difference between the two systems is one can be cranked with a Honda Generator in the back of the building and one would require much much more in the event of a disaster.
I do understand the love of the convenience of cloud computing but to me it is still limited in functionality, has a lot more latency (which gets worse with larger adoption), and it eliminates local jobs. That means your business is going to suffer eventually because your area is economically depressed while California folks are living the high life.
I say build your IT system yourself. Use local folks. Protect your information about your company, your employees, and you and make a difference right where you live and not get all enamored with the idea of everything being someplace else.