Welcome!

Release Management Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, David H Deans, Liz McMillan, Jnan Dash

Related Topics: @CloudExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Not Quite Ready to Live in the Cloud

Google’s impressive Chromebook Pixel - the latest in a series of devices which are trying to entice users to compute differently

Google’s impressive Chromebook Pixel is just the latest in a series of devices which are trying to entice users to compute in a different way. With (almost) ubiquitous connectivity, and an increasing reliance upon web-based services for mail, calendars, document creation and more, might we be reaching a point at which the browser really can be our means of accessing everything? Philosophically, the idea resonates. And yet, although I am not a power user who needs to regularly process video or edit high resolution images (the usual excuses for not embracing the Chromebook vision), I still remain uncomfortable with giving up my non-browser tools. Despite living and working in the cloud, I find that locally installed client software continues to deliver real value. Maybe, the next time I upgrade a computer, I need to try installing nothing more than a browser for a week or two, and see if it’s as painful as I feel it could be…

The cloud powers my business. The cloud is what I talk to clients about, it’s what I write about, it’s what people pay me to know about. The cloud (and, more generally, the web) make it possible for me to work with clients around the world, often without leaving a small market town in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Every piece of software I buy, install and use (except Microsoft Office, which I do still have to endure from time to time) is little more than a window onto the cloud. Most of those software tools have a web interface that I could use. Even tools which don’t (like OmniFocus) have competitors that do. So in principle I could do pretty well all of my mainstream tasks in a web browser. But I don’t. And I’m not yet sure that I want to.

chromebook-pixelOn one level, mainstays of my working day like Evernote, Reeder and Dropbox exist to ensure that the content I want is available on whichever device I’m using, whenever I need it. Desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile phone all access the same shared pool of content, banishing the old world in which either everything travelled on a USB stick or (more likely) the document you wanted was on your other device. Both Evernote and Dropbox (and other tools I use) have decent web interfaces. I could just use those, and (provided there’s a network connection) realise the same basic benefit of access to documents and data. But the desktop clients (and mobile apps) bring a degree of polish to the user experience that – to me – still seems to add real value. If nothing else, local caching makes them quicker. Indeed, Reeder is really just a local window onto a web-based service (the soon-to-die Google Reader). That dependency creates an interesting challenge for Reeder’s creator, following Google’s decision to shut down their service.

For email, calendaring and basic document creation, however, I’ve fully embraced the browser-based experience. Google Apps, running inside Chrome, with a few core extensions such as Rapportive. Here, locally installed software no longer adds any value for me. Blogging, too, mostly happens inside a WordPress editor these days. Offline editors like MarsEdit, although good, now languish unused on my hard drive. The boring financial side of my business is also entirely on the web, with everything handled on my bank’s web site or within FreeAgent‘s web-based tool.

And then there’s Skype. With no sign of Google Voice in Europe, Skype remains the mainstay for voice and video communication. And it only works if you’ve downloaded and installed the software. It would be difficult to rely upon a device which wouldn’t let me use Skype.

It’s certainly possible to do almost everything without locally installing any software, and that’s a remarkable step forward. But it’s really not clear that the web-only experience is good enough (yet) for people to embrace it by choice. Thin clients (like the Chromebook) may be cheaper than their Windows and OS X-powered equivalents, especially if sales volumes grow. They may be easier to manage, which must appeal to enterprise IT managers. But would an individual choose to buy one, except to save themselves a bit of money? Not yet, I suspect.

I’ve moved entirely from local email, calendar and blog clients to the web. I’ve moved mostly from local word processing to the web. How long will it be until the web interface for other services becomes our first choice, rather than a useful backup in those situations where you’re borrowing someone else’s computer? It will be interesting to see… The Chromebook (both the eye-wateringly expensive Pixel and cheaper variants) offers an interesting illustration of future potential. With the current state of web tools, though, today’s Chromebooks cannot be more than a niche play. It will not be many years before that changes, and light, fast, cheap, well-connected devices with great batteries become a valid choice for the majority of users in need of a device that isn’t a tablet or a smartphone.

Image © Google.

More Stories By Paul Miller

Paul Miller works at the interface between the worlds of Cloud Computing and the Semantic Web, providing the insights that enable you to exploit the next wave as we approach the World Wide Database.

He blogs at www.cloudofdata.com.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time t...
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to impr...
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
Chris Matthieu is the President & CEO of Computes, inc. He brings 30 years of experience in development and launches of disruptive technologies to create new market opportunities as well as enhance enterprise product portfolios with emerging technologies. His most recent venture was Octoblu, a cross-protocol Internet of Things (IoT) mesh network platform, acquired by Citrix. Prior to co-founding Octoblu, Chris was founder of Nodester, an open-source Node.JS PaaS which was acquired by AppFog and ...
The deluge of IoT sensor data collected from connected devices and the powerful AI required to make that data actionable are giving rise to a hybrid ecosystem in which cloud, on-prem and edge processes become interweaved. Attendees will learn how emerging composable infrastructure solutions deliver the adaptive architecture needed to manage this new data reality. Machine learning algorithms can better anticipate data storms and automate resources to support surges, including fully scalable GPU-c...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
JETRO showcased Japan Digital Transformation Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo® at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is a non-profit organization that provides business support services to companies expanding to Japan. With the support of JETRO's dedicated staff, clients can incorporate their business; receive visa, immigration, and HR support; find dedicated office space; identify local government subsidies; get...