March 14, 2012
I recently drove to a friend’s house to drop off a copy of a file I had promised him long ago. One problem: I left my USB drive at home. That’s where my cloud story begins…
“Why didn’t you just share the document with me over Google Docs or Box (Box.net),” he said. “I thought you’re an expert at all this cloud stuff. Isn’t that your job or something?!”
I wasn’t only frustrated that I had forgotten the file and drove 20 minutes for nothing (an expensive mistake considering we get charged our first born child at the gas pump these days). I was also shocked by what he said to me. It hit me like a ton of bricks…or a ton of USB drives that apparently I don’t really need to use: You don’t have to be a cloud application developer, or a part of an enterprise IT team, or even a technology media blogger to know about the cloud. The cloud is everywhere…seriously.
Everyone who lives in my area of the country knows exactly what I’m talking about. Drive north or south down the U.S. 101 between San Francisco and San Jose and you’ll quickly realize that the cloud is all around you. And I’m not talking about those clouds hovering off the San Francisco bay every morning.
I’m talking about billboards, taxis and buses draped with ads for cloud solutions, giant banners hanging off the side of business buildings. And if you cruise the 101 long enough you’ll even see the corporate headquarters of some of the most popular cloud technology providers. You can’t help but learn what cloud computing is.
For everyone else who doesn’t live within the ground zero of the cloud computing explosion, just walk into your nearest Best Buy or any other technology department store, or pay closer attention to ads along the sides of web sites you visit, or watch an entire commercial break during your favorite TV show. The cloud is everywhere.
The point is that when you cover a topic like the cloud as part of your daily job, when you read press release after press release, when you attend conferences and conduct countless interviews and rush to meet deadlines, you start to think that your line of work exists in some sort of vacuum or bubble. I do my research, conduct my interviews, finish my stories and then BOOM! I shut down my computer and the cloud disappears. Or at least it did until my friend gave me a much-needed wake-up call.
What I failed to realize before is that it’s impossible to get away from the cloud, which is one of the reasons that cloud providers and cloud computing in general has been so successful. And people who read, write or are mentioned in technology reporting are not the only ones who know about the cloud. In much the same way that social media has spread like wildfire (my grandma sends me Twitter messages), the usefulness of the cloud has spread from elementary schools, to office environments, to others who use it in order to make personal, day-to-day tasks easier — sharing files, for example. The cloud is everywhere. Seriously.
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