By Matt Buckley, Link Builder, Epiphany Solutions Ltd

Cloud computing is set to become the biggest user of Internet traffic over the next 10 years as more people realise that there is a huge range of software available online that meets their needs in a way that traditional desktop based solutions cannot.

The IDC have recently predicted that revenue from software provided as a service (such as Google docs) will grow 5X quicker than normal software and very soon a third of all software will be delivered via the web. Apparently by 2012, we will be spending over $42 billion on cloud computing.

The development of cloud computing has been spurred on by many things, primarily the ability to be connected easily where ever you are.

The abundance of free wi-fi spots located all over your city, on your train and even on your next flight means you can connect whilst mobile. The roll out of super fast broadband in many areas has meant that people have come to accept higher speeds as standard. People spend all day connected to the web, so cloud based companies have grown to support this need.

This has been supported by the development of the netbook. As of 2010, netbooks don't really rival laptops for computing power, so we make do with netbooks and tablets that are slightly underpowered, but that's OK because they are cheap, portable and you can connect to the web wherever you are.

Netbooks and Tablets are portable and underpowered, but the cloud is powerful and accessible everywhere you go. It’s a perfect match between portability and power.

People begin to use cloud services without even noticing, Gmail or Yahoo allow email to be sent without an email client and from there people move to the bundled services such as Google Docs. Once people see the benefits of these services, the next logical step is to move all your work to cloud.

I started using Google Docs in 2008 and I have now progressed to a free operating system called Jolicloud. It’s based on Linux but almost entirely populated with cloud software. It installs on pretty much any laptop or netbook and offers a seamless experience. It goes to show that you can get pretty much anything you need online and it’s all totally free.

This current trend towards free software isn’t going to continue without some source of revenue for the developers creating and hosting their work. Some offer a license for their software for a small charge, but many provide the service for free. Just as mobile apps are supported by adverts and Spotify is interrupted with voice over’s, your next spread sheet might feature adverts too.

We are officially spoilt for choice (just look at the size of the app store for Android and Apple) There are masses of high quality free applications being developed for your mobile. These apps are all based around the model of selling advertising space within the app; after all, they allow extremely accurate targeting of particular customer types based on their interests. This model of advertising works and it’s the same idea that is being used in the cloud.

Much like the explosion in usage of mobile apps, people will warm to the idea of cloud computing and it will take off in a huge way. Just look at the latest news:
Dell and HP are currently fighting over Boomi, a leader in the cloud business and Microsoft and Google are apparently beginning a bidding war to provide cloud services to the US government. With these giant companies trying to get a foothold in the market, it’s clear that the future of cloud computing is going to be big. There are already hundreds of services available online that do everything from tracking your calorie intake to constructing your next presentation. It’s just a case of getting people to use them. With the rumoured Google operating system coming soon, we might see a sudden uptake in the number of people using cloud services.

Many people complain about how much advertising there is on the web, but the fact is, a lot of websites wouldn’t be around without the revenue that ads generate. People would rather have an ad supported service then no service at all. For the smaller developers, advertising has now become a necessary evil to be able to fund their projects.

Ultimately, as long as the adverts don’t get in the way of the user experience, it’s a small price to pay for such an amazing service that comes at no expense to the consumer. If these cloud based applications thrive in the same way as mobile apps have, we might come to expect all our software to be provided free of charge.

Find out more about Epiphany Solutions Ltd at www.epiphanysolutions.co.uk

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