iPhone in the Clouds with Diamonds

iPhone and Cloud Computing

iPhone represents a phenomenal growth in user-generated data, as Joe Tucci alluded to in his EMC World 2008 keynote, when he said that by 2010:

  • 70% will come from individual creation
  • 85% will become the responsibility of organizations: YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Google

We know that since the advent of the iPhone just over a year ago, Google has experienced a HUGE jump in mobile access to its site, primarily via this device with it’s image-rich Safari Mobile web browser. As Google mobile product manager Matt Waddell said back in March,

“We have very much hit a watershed moment in terms of mobile Internet usage. We are seeing that mobile Internet use is in fact accelerating… as many as 50 times more Web searches” vs. standard, so-called feature phones.

According to data released by M:Metrics, roughly 85% of iPhone users access the mobile Internet and almost 60% perform mobile web search. These numbers are dramatic and outstrip usage on other smart phones as well.

While the iPhone 2.0 firmware upgrade release will increase the appetite for end-user device consumption, including over-the-air downloads, the iPhone 3G will double or triple the data download speed over the first generation iPhone. Greater speed will likely mean greater consumption.

Cellphone tower triangulation has been a feature on the old iPhone as well as other mobile devices, but the new GPS capabilities of the iPhone 3G will mean even greater online data consumption.

mobileme.png

The implications on data consumption, and on cloud computing with MobileMe can be significant. Apple used the term “cloud computing” at their announcement at the WWDC in San Francisco. The idea is that any item you change in your Calendar, Contacts, or Email will be near-instantly be changed in the cloud and be updated on your Macintosh (if you have one) or on a web-based tool on your Windows PC.

The service will be MobileMe, the rebranding of Apple’s .Mac service. It will be beefed up in space to 20GB of space and will cost $99/year. For those who already have .Mac, they’ll be automatically upgraded. This secure online server holds the information and pushes the updates to the other locations in seconds. On the Mac it will work with the native applications: iCal, Address Book, and Mail. On the PC it will work with Windows XP or Vista. On the handheld, it will work with the iPhone or iPod Touch. As Apple calls it, “Exchange for the rest of us.

The PC web-based applications will be available from MobileMe at me.com. There will be mail, contacts, calendar, photo gallery, and iDisk, the online file storage. This is not the first time we’ve seen cloud computing, but it’s the first time we’ve heard Apple discussing it in a product launch. Cloud computing is the popular name for a number of different trends and technologies that involve online computing, data manipulation and storage.

One of the more popular consumer applications of cloud computing is Mozy Backup, which I’ve mentioned before. For about $5 a month, a user can backup an unlimited amount of PC or Mac data “into the cloud” over the Internet. The initial full backup can take some time, but thereafter, it backups just incremental changes at a block level. For those who want “off site” backup, this is ideal… and at much capacity than .Mac/MobileMe offers.

I’ve been asked about the implications of cloud computing.

Question:

Isn’t my data on someone else’s server?

Answer:

Yes, just like your email is at your ISP before you download it (via POP) and as it always is if you use IMAP email.

The trade-off here is the sense of insecurity in having your private data somewhere else (though Mozy encrypts it) compared to the flexibility of being able to access it anywhere that you can connect over the Internet. I gave up POP email years ago for the convenience of being able to collect it on the road, at work, at home, or from a hand held device, using server-side spam filtering and sorting. Another concern is:

Question:

If I can’t get online, won’t I be without  access to my information?

Answer:

Yes, unless it’s synced locally to your hand held (like an iPhone), or unless you have an offline copy. Technologies like Google Gears are making browser based information more persistent when disconnected.

Who knows what the future holds for other more powerful technologies.

Thanks for coming along.

BillPetro.com

3 thoughts on “iPhone in the Clouds with Diamonds”

  1. Been there, done that, moved on. “Cloud computing” is this generation’s mainframe and 3270 computing model. Like the 3270 tube, the X-Terminal, and thin-client computing, cloud computing will never succeed. People like local control, local data, and local power. Coincidentally, I just blogged on this, at http://www.effectivecio.com.

  2. Chuck, I would have expected you to say that cloud computing is this year’s “grid computing” or “utility computing.” :-)

    But I don’t think we have an argument. I was not arguing for or against cloud computing, my thesis was that this type of computing can generate TONS of additional data, not the least of which is sheer replication of data.

    And your excellent, as usual, blog entry does not contradict what I’ve said above. Some TYPES of data are better served being on the Internet: calendar, contacts, and email all benefit from ubiquitous access. And you and I use the same brand of off site backup technology — Mozy.

    Yesterday’s failure of the Google Apps Engine argues to your point, but I don’t disagree with it. Some applications, and some data require local access and manipulation.

    But if you’ve got all your eggs locally, whoa be the day of a natural disaster.

    In the words of George Santayana, Harvard philosopher and poet:

    “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.”

  3. We’re on the same page. Certain services gravitate to the cloud. Others make no sense there. Moving local productivity apps to the cloud seems silly, but contacts, calendars, and correspondence make a natural home there. Perhaps they are the 3 Cs of the cloud? My real problem is with those folks who want to blindly move *everything* to the cloud, just because we can.

    All those local eggs are indeed a recipe for disaster. Disaster recovery and business continuity are required components of any system, personal or business.

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