Microsoft and Google Head to the Cloud

Cloud MonitorBernard Golden, chief executive of consulting firm HyperStratus, has been keeping an eye on Microsoft’s and Google’s latest moves, and his analysis on CIO.com is crystal clear:

Cloud computing is transforming IT. Actually, transforming is too antiseptic a word. It implies a gentle improvement, akin to a caterpillar turning into a lovely butterfly. The reality is that transformations are wrenching, with market re-ordering taking place as companies struggle with or take advantage of technology developments. Within the companies wrenching transformations take a personal toll as employees are laid off or find themselves working for a new company post-divestiture.

Golden finds it significant that Microsoft is going to make a cloud-based version of Microsoft Office available in both free and paid versions. The implication: "This is a powerful endorsement of the SaaS approach in a key – perhaps the key – computer application. Microsoft has thrown in the towel on the ‘on-premise is best’ perspective." Like many others, Golden notes that "Free is in the air," and it’s changing how we work.

At Google, Golden says, the introduction of Google Voice, a sort of superunified Net-based voicemail and message center that’s also free:

demonstrates how additional services can be layered onto a cloud infrastructure relatively easily, which is where cloud computing gets really exciting. While the opportunity to run traditional apps in a cloud environment brings benefits, it’s always the case that a platform shift opens up new applications that couldn’t be executed in the previous platform environment.

Indeed.

In the future, IT management may not involve maintaining servers at all. You’ll just sit in front a few screens that provide a good view of "the cloud." Are you ready for the change?

For another angle, here’s ComputerWorld’s article about the kinds of tech jobs the cloud may eliminate.

— Don Willmott

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