As I am in the process of buying a new house the Estate Agent’s mantra of location, location, location is ringing in my ears. Well actually it is interesting how having spoken this truism they then seem to spend their time showing houses that break the rules of location being the prime determinate. It struck me that a similar game might be occurring with cloud and new computing models. Bear with me.

There was a great article in the Observer this week on the launch of Google’s new OS highlighting how it was likely to change the rules governing computer operating systems. Rather than being the heart of the PC the OS would become simply a “life support system” for a browser, which you use to pull down computing services from server farms over the web. Radical thinking but this chant of location began to ring in my ears.

Well it was at a breakfast to discuss the future of cloud computing that it first began to ring. At this talk Professor Nigel Shadbolt, among others, pointed out that the problem is with access. If you are dependent for a broadband connection on being able to access your computing tools, there will be many times (particularly for the nomadic business person) when you simply can’t compute because you don’t have access. The obvious times are planes and trains but within the office every network failure would mean not just inability to access the web but also your desk top and even LAN. Moreover, this access when it is available is not cheap; with everywhere from a hotel to hotspot, the cost of access, while seemingly small, would actually add up dramatically when used for such a mission critical purpose.

The breakfast revealed many other challenges from legal issues to knotty interoperability challenges, but it did seem to me that the prime determinant for access, if not free access, was being overlooked in the face of exciting new models and futures. Admittedly one option was the idea of software and services put forward by Microsoft, but as one observer pointed out, this was perhaps paying twice. A simplification of a grand vision, never the less it still strikes me that amid all the talk of new futures we should be thinking of access, access, access first.

Jon Hargreaves (@Naked_Pheasant)

In the interests of disclosure we represent Microsoft, HP, Motorola, Orange, Symantec and broolz, all with interests in the field of cloud computing.

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