What Is Cloud Computing?
Imagine your PC and all of your mobile devices being in sync—all the time. Imagine being able to access all of your personal data at any given moment. Imagine having the ability to organize and mine data from any online source. Imagine being able to share that data—photos, movies, contacts, e-mail, documents, etc.—with your friends, family, and coworkers in an instant. This is what personal cloud computing promises to deliver.
Whether you realize it or not, you’re probably already using cloud-based services. Pretty much everyone with a computer has been. Gmail and Google Docs are two prime examples; we just don’t think of those services in those terms.
In essence, personal cloud computing means having every piece of data you need for every aspect of your life at your fingertips and ready for use. Data must be mobile, transferable, and instantly accessible. The key to enabling the portable and interactive you is the ability to synch up your data among your devices, as well as access to shared data. Shared data is the data we access online in any number of places, such as social networks, banks, blogs, newsrooms, paid communities, etc.
Ultimately, your personal cloud—which includes everything from your address book and music collection to your reports and documents for work—will connect to the public cloud and other personal clouds. Everything connects. That means every place on the Internet you interact with, as well as every person you interact with can be connected. This includes your social networks, bank, university, workplace, family, friends—you name it.
Of course, you will determine what you show the public and what you keep private. Clusters of personal clouds will form new social networks that will likely have a lot more privacy settings than Facebook, especially if these clusters are family or business oriented. (Privacy will be a huge issue as personal clouds hit critical mass.)
Eventually, like the smart house in the TV series Eureka, your devices will learn about you and eventually intuit what you are doing, where you are going, and what you intend to do when you get there. Think of all this as helpful… not creepy.
This might all sound a bit like science fiction, but this is exactly where we’re headed with cloud computing. We’re not quite there yet, though. We’re all still creating our personal clouds.
So, what is involved in creating a personal cloud and what can you do with it right now? We’ll explain the basics here and, in our subsequent pieces, we’ll delve in to the specifics. We’ll take a look at the features within Windows 7 and Windows Live that will take you to the cloud—often without you even knowing it. So, check back for stories about Photo Fuse, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Mesh, SkyDrive, and more.
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