In a recent "Computerworld" (http://macte.ch/lTeMX) column, Jonny "Apple Holic" Evans (love the column name) said he thought OS X Mountain Lion might be one of the last desktop computer systems Apple ships as "operating systems are heading inexorably into the cloud." I can't see this happening, though Evans' reasoning is interesting.
He says, a la iOS, in the future your computer (Mac or PC) will carry a slimline OS in order to remain capable of doing many things offline, "but will truly come into its own when accessing the information, software and services held online." Evans says that with the proliferation of services such as Dropbox and Cortado, "computing isn't just about the data you hold on your computer anymore; it's about the data you own in the world wherever it might be stored." He foresees future Macs as devices with barely-there hard drives and most data stored in the cloud.
Evans notes that for this to happen, you need Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G, fixed line and cable deployment and "vast banks of Apple-owned servers" at strategic points worldwide." He says those things are coming into place.
True, but it's going to be years, perhaps decades before this infrastructure is capable of supporting all Americans (contrary to popular belief, not all U.S. citizens live in big cities), much less those in other countries. Even if the infrastructure could server everyone, not all of us are willing to trust everything to the "cloud."
For example, earlier this year CouponCodes4u.com, a coupon code website, conducted a flash-poll of 2,007 Americans to discover more about their opinions towards cloud storage -- and whether they would feel comfortable in using cloud-based services at home. Respondents were initially asked whether they used a cloud storage service on a daily basis, to which 12% replied "yes."
All respondents taking part were then asked whether t they currently felt safe storing personal documents online through the cloud, with just 31% replying "yes." The majority, 69%, claimed that they were unsure of the safety of storing personal documents in the cloud.
Those who were unsure of the safety of the cloud were asked to explain their reasons why, and were able to select more than one response. The majority, 48%, replied that they didn't feel safe storing "sentimental and personal documents online as opposed to their house or office," while 31% said that "online hacking" was a worry. For a quarter, 24%, not being able to "access their information if the cloud was down" was a contributing factor.
According to the research, an additional 21% cited "lack of control" over the Internet and their personal information as a concern. Fifteen percent admitted that they didn't know enough about "the cloud" and its abilities to feel confident with using it.
Still, when asked if they believed that they would use a cloud storage service at some point in the future, 61% of total respondents said "yes." Of these, 41% explained that they would only use the cloud for storing "extra copies" of their digital data, while 25% of respondents said that they would use the cloud to store travel documents, such as passport scans, travel itineraries and contact details "just in case" their wallet and personal affects were lost or stolen while away from home.
Only 5% of respondents replied that they would feel "completely comfortable" in transferring their digital data online without "backup drives" or "copies." Mark Pearson, chairman of CouponCodes4u.com, underscores what I've been saying for a long time: "Although quite a few people use 'the cloud' on a day to day basis, perhaps it would be a smart move to make sure you have copies of all those important documents instead of placing all ones eggs in a single digital basket."
There's no doubt that we are, and will continue, to create, buy and store an ever-increasing amount of digital data. Much of that will be in the cloud, but most of it will be on hard drives, solid state drives, etc. Bigger and better drives -- and home servers -- will be needed, not fewer.
The cloud is here and will grow bigger. But so will home storage products.
-- Dennis Sellers