Living the Cloud (talk notes)

I recently attended a couple of events in SF pertaining to “cloud computing” and “designing business models”. Below are my notes…

Smart Salon: Living in the Cloud

This panel discussion (featuring folks from Sugar Sync, Autodesk, and Smart Design) was held as part of Smart’s regular salon series in their SF studio. Interesting thoughts and questions around the ambiguous buzzword of the moment, “cloud”. No real answers per se, but as a fellow Citrix attendee said, it’s good to know we’re all at the same starting point of lacking clarity and concrete solutions and answers. Yep, many issues and questions…

* Quite simply, “the cloud” is just “the internet”, from a typical consumer POV
* From IT admin/back-end POV it’s a server farm with constant high availability and stability and (ahem) security
* Going deeper, it’s a connected set of services, structures, processes that should (ideally) be a pervasive enabler of working/playing/studying/doing anything with your data at anytime, from anywhere, on any device, as a fluid seamless experience. The key concept is being “connected” to the data servers via wireless internet or cellular or whatever transmission tech.
* The “cloud” metaphor should hide the complexity of systems and transactions, being something “grokkable” by ordinary masses (but do they really need to know about it at all…beyond the advertising buzz?)
* Security and Privacy are major issues for consumers to trust their data “in the cloud”, without feeling taken for a ride. How to convey this in clear, easy language? How to balance the data storage, with data efficiency, processing speed/power, user accessibility, etc.
* Also challenges of “where is my data” when it’s “out there”…layers of place, locality, navigation, positional knowledge. Leads to trust impacts too.
* How can we support graceful degradation of cloud abilities across legacy devices and platforms? Reduced feature sets and abilities, etc.
* Some discussion around “hybrid experiences”: a combination of local storage and content stored elsewhere, to help transition folks not used to cloud or provide local confidence in cloud-based data

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