It rains so routinely in Bengaluru that a cloud is the most unlikely candidate as a newsmaker here. And yet, ‘cloud’ has been no less newsworthy this week for the city’s ICT audience than for others elsewhere.

And why not! Two of the most valued tech companies were in news over their ‘cloud’ offerings. While Apple actually announced its iCloud service on June 6, it’s been strongly rumored that Microsoft would be launching Office 365, it’s cloud version of Office applications, by June-end.

Cloud could make convergence really arrive, albeit in a different manner than what has generally been envisioned. From a user standpoint, it could be simply about accessing various applications and about storing all data and communication that would converge on a ‘drive somewhere in the cloud.’

But wait a minute. Isn’t that something we have already been doing for long, very long? The most routine activity to mention here would be the use of web mail services like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, et al, where users have been storing, accessing and sharing their communications and files in the Internet space aka the cloud. So much so that it would not be very off the mark to use the term ‘cloud mail’ for these web mail services.

So what would be changing? One, the realm of cloud would become more encompassing, covering a host of applications other than the webmail. Two, and which would be more important, is that the uniformity of user’s experience will become focus of the industry’s attention. In other words, the applications would provide similar, if not same levels of user experiences when run on different devices.

With iCloud, this would be achieved by auto-downloading a content on all the users’ access devices the moment it would be downloaded on either of their devices–a desktop, a notebook, a tablet or a smart phone.

To achieve the sync-up, actual storage and access of the documents and files would happen on a ‘cloud drive’ and not on the local hard disks or flash drives; downloads on various user devices will just mirror the user’s content on the ‘cloud drive.’ That would make anytime, anywhere and any-device accesses become a reality, which is a key attribute of convergence.

Another important outcome of cloud-access would be ‘session continuity.’ So if you running an application on the PC screen while indoors, you could continue with the session over a tablet or smart phone even if you need to step out. Yes, that would hold true for a session of your favorite video!

(As published in Deccan Chronicle, June 9, 2011.)

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