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Come to Cloud 9 Thinking

News of the launch of Apple’s iCloud service has dominated technology and mainstream news over the past week. Not only for it allowing the ‘laundering’ of illegal music downloads, but for elevating ‘cloud’ technology into the mainstream.So, for the uninitiated, what is cloud and how will it effect how we communicate and above all do business?

‘With mobile phones now out-selling computers and smart phones now more powerful than the computers we coveted just five years ago, the move is towards one device from which you can access your information from anywhere in the world. The information is kept on a remote or viral server – know as a ‘cloud computer” Dave Jabbie explains. ‘Businesses are used to storing their information on a server – an actual physical box. ‘Cloud’ computing is the ability to store and deliver a resource on demand – such as iCloud for storing and downloading music. The advantages to business is that with cloud you pay only for what you use – whereas in the past you bought an expensive piece of hardware – a server – that could end up either not being up to the task and requiring an upgrade or else be far in excess of your needs – thus costly to run. Cloud does away with all that.’

iCloud ushers in the start of mainstream convergence – the one device from which you access all your stored information everything from documents, projects, information, photos, videos etc from anywhere – all stored on cloud. ‘Virtualization – which is another term for ‘cloud’ means that as far as businesses are concerned, their information is always accessible, always available,’ Jabbie says. ‘Unlike an actual physical server which can go offline or need down-time – during which time your customers cannot communicate with you and may not be able to access your website.’

But what does this mean for businesses seeking to communicate with and interact with their customers? What opportunities does ‘cloud thinking’ offer?

‘When thinking of web development and digital marketing, advertisers need to start to future-proof their strategies by starting to think of how their web site, digital or social media campaigns are going to be designed to be accessed by these ‘convergence’ devices. The idea of someone accessing your site by sitting in front of a computer monitor is fast becoming obsolete,’ says Jabbie. ‘Not only have we got to think about how a page displays on a hand-held device, the concept of convergence means that your customer could be viewing your information on a TV monitor – thus requiring higher resolution. What we are going to see emerging from this are apps and mobile sites for specific hand-held devices, and then an entirely different solution for display on large, HD screens.’

The future? ‘Eventually you will be able to design ‘smart’ sites and apps which recognise the device and adjust their resolution and display accordingly. Cloud storage allows for the cost-effective hosting of variable, smart solutions,’ says Jabbie.

Full convergence is some way off but device such as PlayStation, iPad and smart phones point the way with iCloud now providing a mainstream, commercial consumer service.

‘Cloud allows companies to offer a wider range of services to their customers while convergence allows their customers to access those services from any device, anywhere. ‘The smart money’s on those companies which are not only taking advantage of the cost effectiveness this offers but are thinking of the myriad ways they can connect and build relationships with their customers via their convergence solutions. iCloud is just the beginning,’ Jabbie states.’We are going to see Cloud products emerging that offer their users the ability to download, cache and store all their information – all in the one place. The vendors of these ‘Super Clouds’ will create massive media outlets capable of generating huge amounts of revenue – both in terms of paid-for services and in advertising space. The next generation of media barons will literally be sitting on Cloud 9.’

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