Google's announcement of the Google Music service is one of the first real implementations of the new cloud model. The Google Music service places music on an external system, accessed by a smartphone or any other Android based device. It marks a significant first step towards the new model of computing that cloud computing represents.
Cloud computing is still an ambiguous term in the marketplace. In addition, many companies who do not really fit the model of cloud computing are offering "cloud services" with the hope that the overall hype will benefit them.
We view cloud computing as a transformational new model for the computing industry. When it is fully developed, it will have changed the method by which we interact with technology.
Currently, the architectural model is the networked-PC model. In this model, the processing and storage of user information is centrally focused around a single user device: the "personal" computer.
On this computer resides much of the information used and processed by programs that also reside on the same device. Although data may be present on other servers, in general, the processing of that data occurs when the data is downloaded to the specific PC.
The cloud model makes the user device independent and portable. Although apps (small applications) may reside on this device, their general purpose is simply to access the full program and data that resides elsewhere.
The shift to this type model will completely alter the current, PC centered model. We think the potential is there for the cloud transformation to be as dramatic as the transformation caused by the PC itself twenty-five years ago.
Cloud computing is sometimes described in the media as simply remote storage or the SAAS (software as a service) model. Both of these are likely to eventually be seen as simply evolutionary steps towards the cloud model.
We define cloud computing in the following way:
Much of the hype around cloud computing focuses on only the remote or outsourced aspect of this transformation. We think this aspect of the cloud computing transformation is the least revolutionary aspect of it. Remote applications, data storage, and Software-as-a-Service have been elements of technology over the past ten years with an evolutionary, not revolutionary impact. Our view of cloud computing is revolutionary, as we expect the applications and manner by which we access and process information to change dramatically.
For more information on our view of cloud computing, please see the July 2, 2010 Ahead of the Curve column, Cloud Computing Defined. Also please see the research reports published as part of the Briefing.com Research product, at www.briefing.com/research
The most recent research report on Cloud Computing was designed to test the idea that there is a real and measurable revenue trend behind cloud computing. The research demonstrated that there is a measurable and significant trend driving cloud associated stocks more strongly than other technology stocks.
The newly announced Google Music Service is a true implementation of the cloud model.
In this model, the actual files of music owned by a consumer are stored on remote servers operated by Google.
Accessing the songs is done by any Android device, whether a smartphone or a pad computer or a traditional PC computer.
Copies of the music file are downloaded when requested to be played are downloaded to the listening device. The playing of the actual song occurs on the smartphone.
However, the storage of that song on the listening device is not permanent (unless so selected). Neither is the song removed from the Google Music server.
What this means is that you can access a song remotely from any connected device that has the Android app or a web browser.
For persons who have stored all of their music library on a single PC computer and then copied it to an iPad, the benefits of this system are probably obvious.
Transferring an entire library of licensed music from one computer to a new one is neither easy nor quick. Not only does the licensed music have to be successfully transferred, the new library, stored on a PC, has to be synced to the playing device in order to retain the licenses.
The Google Music Server completely alters this music.
The songs are stored on a remote server, not a local computer. Changing a listening device simply means allowing the listening device to access the library and either download temporary or permanent versions of songs or playlists.
What this means is that upgrading a phone or a computer does not require any transfer of files from one device to a new device. The songs are permanently stored on a Google server.
The Google Music Service is important because it is the first major implementation of a real cloud model.
The same type of model could be enacted for other common functionality, however.
For example, creating a word document is now done by running a word processing program on a local computer with the file residing on that local computer.
That means that in order to work on the document in more than one location, the computer has to be carried along.
In the cloud model, this inconvenience is not a factor. The same file can be worked on at different locations because the file itself -- and even the program to edit it -- resides on a remote server that can be accessed from anywhere.
In this sense, the recently introduced iPad is not truly a cloud computing device.
The iPad would have been far more interesting if it simply served as an input/.output device that used an iPhone 3G connection for access to a remote server. When connected by Bluetooth to the phone, the iPad could be used to access files and programs on remote servers, when necessary.
In such a model, one would never have to carry an iPad around or travel with a computer. Simply having your smartphone for wireless access would be enough.
The Google Music Service is still in beta testing.
To sign up for beta testing, you can request an invitation from Google at the following site: http://music.google.com/about/
There are still a lot of unanswered questions about the Google Music Service, including cost, compatibility with existing licensed songs, and, most importantly, whether Google is planning to offer a direct competition with iTunes and sell songs directly.
Whether the financial model for the Google Music Service works or not is a question that cannot be answered until these other issues are known.
But as a example of where the cloud computing transformation is headed, the Google Music Service illustrates the principals involved.
We have signed up to be part of the beta testing for the Google Music Service. When that happens, we will provide an update on how it really works.
Comments may be emailed to the author, Robert V. Green, at firstname.lastname@example.org