Musings on the “cloud”

cloud_cartoonI tend to read a lot about cloud computing in my spare time. It’s an interesting topic and there’s no shortage of reading material as it is a very hot topic in many circles. I still find it strange that the definition of cloud computing continues to expand at a time when it should be contracting. I’m a firm believer that the technology is available, but vendors are hesitant to take advantage of it for various reasons; cost, fear of change, security, etc. Anyway, here are some of things that crossed my path over the past several days that I think fall into the “cloud” category.

– I helped a friend migrate his multi-media data, movies, music, and photos from multiple computers to a single, central storage location. He was using two desktop Mac computers and a single Mac laptop to store his information in multiple locations. This is common practice for anyone that owns multiple machines. So, I had him purchase a wireless external drive and we spent a some time getting him all set up. Every thing went smoothly and now his information is stored in a single, secure location that is easily backed up. The entire process got me thinking that Apple should begin offering online storage and access to multi-media information purchased through iTunes. In this day and age it makes no sense to store this information on a local hard drive. Apple offers a service called mobileme that would be perfect. It’s a subscription service that I personally find useful enough to pay for every year. Think about it, you purchase a song from iTunes and it’s stored on an Apple server that you can then access from any machine with internet access and a browser. C’mon Apple, step up and lead us into the future.

FierceMobileHealthcare: “With all the mobile applications that keep appearing for hot-selling smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone and Research In Motion’s many BlackBerry models, you’d think that mobile apps were stirring a revolution in healthcare.” – Yep, as devices become smaller and smater access to data will become ubiquitous. That sounds like a cloud idea to me.

– Online storage is a great way to handle files. I make extensive use of Evernote and Microsoft Live Mesh. Evernote 3.5 beta is a great product. I use it to clip images from websites, store PDF files and keep track of hand written notes. Live Mesh is a great way to store “documents” and access them from any computer, anywhere, anytime. I have my Live Mesh folders synched up on multiple machines. I’m not sure that this is a classic definition for “cloud storage”, but it is a great service nonetheless.


– I read an interesting article in the September 2009 issue of Laptop magazine called “The Linux Debate”. The article talks about how companies with a large number of mobile employees are switching from Windows to Linux in order to save money. Many people might cringe at the thought of using Linux secondary to it being an unfamiliar interface, but if you’re checking email and accessing documents via a browser, like Google apps, it makes little to no difference. Cloud computing models work independent of the operating system or web browser being used

– Windows Live offers a service called SkyDrive that is currently giving you an opportunity to test drive the new web based Office 2010, and give you 25GB of storage to play with. I’ve had a Windows Live account for years and a hotmail account ever since I can remember so it was a no-brainer for me to try it out. I have to say that I’m impressed. The Office apps are much better than Google Docs. Once again, it doesn’t matter what computer or browser I’m using. I simply log in to SkyDrive and start typing away.

– Our facility has recently invested in a new system for the cath labs. Our primary vendor was supposed to have an integrated cath lab system, but failed to deliver. So, instead of developing software for the cath lab on top of their existing system, they opted to contract with a third party vendor. This means a new interface for our hospital. We don’t need integration and interoperability; we need a single data source with different “views” designed around each discipline. Pushing data from one system to another only leads to eventual failure and breakdown of one interface or another. Instead of pushing data from lab to pharmacy to radiology to the ED, etc, we need to use a browser based system to view the same piece of data.

3 thoughts on “Musings on the “cloud””

  1. I use evernote as well. Probably my favorite and most useful application of all time. I also have a Skydrive account that I use for emergencies. Unfortunately my iDisk does not work well at the office.

  2. I agree, Evernote is a great product. I used it extensively at work until my access to the web component was blocked. I don’t use iDisk much. Live Mesh has worked well for me so far, although I’m blocked from using it at work as well.

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