Cloud Computing, Captain Beefheart And Me

Cloud Computing

There are a lot of words that can be applied to cloud computing. Exciting, worrying, empowering, dangerous, intrusive, revolutionary – the list goes on and on a but my favourite is innovative.

As someone who first went onto the Internet in the mid 1990s when there was nothing as new fangled as graphical user interfaces but typed in strings of command line, I can do very little else than sit back in awe and wonder at what has been achieved since then.

It’s the same feeling as I got in the sixties when I first heard Ry Cooder’s slide guitar and Captain Beefheart’s raw vocals on Strictly Personal. Conventional Computing to Cloud Computing. It’s the quantum leap from Safe As Milk To Trout Mask Replica.The shivers still shoot up my spine.

Mobile Is The Future

Even in the past two years since this blog was started the technological advances have been more hyperspace than hyperlink. Back in the 1990s I worked on four year European Commission project looking at the then emerging Internet technologies and how they could benefit the “geographically disadvantaged” Euro speak for those who, like me, live in the middle of nowhere. If we only had then what we had now …

Even back in those dark ages when CompuServe and AO Hell were the “height of sophistication” I knew that “cloud mobility” was the way forward. Travelling from the UK to Brussels required lugging a heavyweight laptop, steroids and strength inducing breakfast cereals.

Now I have a lightweight smartphone that allows me to everything and more than that laptop could ever have achieved. It wasn’t the laptop’s fault; I am sure it wanted to go to its equivalent of Weightwatchers rather than be cursed as an alternative to weight training. Then there is the small matter that back then the cloud was a glint in someone’s eye, not even a potential leg over let alone the real thing.

The Beatles – An Analogy

Now we are at the stage when the answer is yes, what is the question. The framework for the cloud has been created and a lot of the flesh has been put on the bones. Those who took on the challenge have their services established and are building on that. What will be hard is for someone or some organisation to come in with a service or facility that is totally new and revolutionary. I look at this as an equivalent of the Beatles.

Back in the early 60s pop music was unheard of and it was not difficult for a group of talented musicians to blaze pioneering new paths in the musical wilderness. John, Paul, George and Ringo showed what was possible. That “beaten paths are for beaten men” torch has been taken up by the visionaries at Evernote, SugarSync, DeskAway … name your own favourite.

It’s A Roller Coaster – Bring It On!

But as we are on the verge of a new year what happens next? Who knows what the next 12 months will bring but I can guarantee it will be fun. Those, who like Indiana Jones taking that step of faith into the void, will find it will be a roller coaster ride of unimaginable peaks and troughs, laughter and tears.

But they will do it because they, like everyone else that has stepped out into the unknown, are aware with every twanging synapse in their brain, that there is no other journey quite like it. Some will crash and burn like a modern day Icarus that flew too close to the sun, climb out of the wreckage and start again. Others will fly and help transform our world.

My message to them is thank you and bring it on.

Kevin Tea is a journalist and marketing communications professional who has worked for some of the leading blue chip companies in the UK and Europe. In the 1990s he became interested in how emerging Internet-based technologies could change the way that people worked and became an administrator on the Telework Europa Forum on CompuServe. With other colleagues he took part in a four year European Commission sponsored project to look at the way that the Internet could benefit remote communities. His blog is a resource for SMEs who want to use cloud computing and Web 2.0 technologies.