Last year cloud was certainly the technology buzzword of choice with software vendors talking about delivering their wares from the big fluffy Internet. Cloud computing offers an array of marvelous advantages from the basic premise of enterprises not having to physically own or manage the equipment to the ability to rapidly scale and consume more resources as and when required.
One of the things that has aided the adoption of cloud technology is the increased use in mobile devices and the expectations of what users expect to be available on them. It wasn’t long ago where if you wanted to access your CRM database on the road, you would have to find a wireless network for your laptop, VPN to your organization and connect to whatever solution was in place. Today however, with solutions such as Salesforce.com and an array of mobile applications it’s possible for an organization to make use of cloud computing to provide easy access to their CRM data from anywhere.
The technology element that has always troubled me when it came to cloud technology was the imitations (at least within the US) with regards to Internet access – a fundamental component of web-based applications. I was reading a story on Fox News just this morning about how AT&T throttles users bandwidth when they consume too much, even on unlimited data plans and couldn’t help but think that this alone could be a barrier to cloud. As technology evolves and more content is made cloud-ready users will become increasingly frustrated by the constant roadblocks they run into.
I live in a fairly modern area in South Florida yet the phone and local cable company are the only ones who serve my house. With the phone company the maximum bandwidth I can get is around 6Mbps and with the cable company it’s around 30. While the cable company appears to provide a bigger pipe, I have bandwidth caps that prevent me from doing too much and as someone who consistently downloads product builds and test platforms, I dance with this limit regularly.
Is Desktop Virtualization the Savior?
It’s interesting to think of this because back in the day when I first started working with Citrix technologies one of the biggest benefits was its use in client-server environments. The ability to put a terminal server next to the database and only deliver screen images to the user was sensational. If you look at the technology and why it was implemented back then, it’s easy to see how it could be used today in order to address Internet issues.
The problem with desktop virtualization however is that nobody wants to see a Windows desktop on their iPhone, nor to they want to run a non-touch friendly CRM application – they want applications which have been designed for their devices. If desktop virtualization was to evolve however such that phone and touch friendly applications can be “published” to a phone like they were to a desktop that would certainly be significant.
Today, most mobile application developers create native client-based applications and allow them to access various data sources, which is where the data transfer issues come into play. What if those same application developers took a different approach, instead writing a simplified version of an ICA client. The vendor would then run the application logic on a cloud computing platform and deliver just a screen image to the device. I think this could be a significant component to delivering rich enterprise applications to mobile devices – just food for thought…
As always, I’m interested to hear your thoughts and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter.