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June 7, 2011
Apple officially unveiled iCloud during the opening keynote of its Worldwide Developers Conference 2011. iCloud is an all-encompassing cloud platform that integrates with iOS across all the major applications, and it does it all without without needing a PC. In fact, that was one of iCloud’s highlights — you can now use your iOS device completely without a computer. What does this mean for the channel and how does iCloud change the game?
iCloud keeps iTunes music, your most recently taken photographs, apps, books, documents, contacts and settings all backed up on Apple’s cloud, thanks to iOS 5’s new features. Developers can tap into iCloud with an iOS API, too, meaning we’ll finally see multi-device syncing of application content. Apple is already supporting this across its iWork for iOS suite. So if, for instance, you drop your phone and it gets smashed, no worries. You can basically pick up a new iOS device and start back where you left off. With iCloud, it doesn’t matter if your iTunes library dies with your hard drive or if you never backed up to your PC. You can shuffle between iOS devices and have a consistent user experience with consistent user data.
So what does that mean for the channel?
iDevices in the corporate infrastructure just got easier to manage. Other than the fact that iOS 5 now supports encrypted e-mails, IT admins who choose to allow iCloud access can now worry less about managing device updates (they’re over the air now) along with managing user content and backup. With that info in iCloud, there’s now extra room in the data center and less concern about micromanaging the devices themselves.
With iCloud, iDevices will sync to each other, as long as they’re linked to the same Apple account, so using an iPad/iPhone combination in the workplace is now more reasonable. No special tools are needed in a data center, so supporting C-level executives’ demands for integration may have just gotten easier.
iCloud just made life more difficult for cloud providers. Apple stressed heavily that iCloud “just works.” Apple’s control over its devices and ecosystem will allow it to create a seamless user experience that not only should be pleasant to use, but users are going to start wondering why they can’t have that across other technologies. I believe iCloud may have also rendered third-party iOS backup and security solutions null and void (which may or may not save IT admins some more cash – there’s that whole free-market thing to consider).
In short, Apple’s consumerization of the cloud is easily game-changing, and I think we’ll be seeing many cloud backup companies offering similar-styled products for Android and other mobile platforms. I’ve yet to find a more ubiquitous, seamless and invisible cloud backup solution. The added bonus that not a single traditional computer is required to utilize these features will be a huge differentiator in how IT admins choose their mobile strategy.
But how do you see iCloud shaping your channel and the technology in it? Is iOS 5 and iCloud a Godsend or merely another update? Let us know in the comments.
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