Cloud computing is one of the hot buzzwords in the IT industry these days. Basically, vendors like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon want you to move your data and applications from servers that run on your premises onto hardware managed by a third party. Their argument is compelling from a cost standpoint, as Google and other large players are able to reduce costs for storage and services like e-mail to nearly nothing. The grand vision may be a bit optimistic, given the realities that we experience in our virtual trenches and the fact that most of us have some data that we don't feel we can trust to a third party, at least not yet.
Enterprise 2.0: Google, Amazon, Salesforce Push "Cloud" Vision (InformationWeek)
As Google's Product Manager for Google Enterprise said in his Enterprise 2.0 address, the younger generation is already driving innovation as they embraced services like Web-based e-mail much more quickly than the older generation. Still, it will take some major steps for cloud computing to take off as Google envisions, and issues like security, privacy, and reliability will have to be addressed before enterprises depend on a cloud for mission-critical applications. Ten years may sound like a long time, and in the software industry it is a lifetime, but a decade might be too optimistic for such a fundamental shift.
Innovation Will Be Driven by the Adoption of Cloud Computing (Enterprise 2.0 blog)
I have to admit that I have started to push for some movement toward cloud computing, because Gmail's massive storage limits and innovative interface are compelling. Google Apps has a way to go before it is truly able to compete for large numbers of Microsoft Office users who are used to the rich feature set in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. I think that, eventually, Microsoft needs to worry about Google's encroachment into their territory, but it will be a long time before Google takes any serious market share in the office application space. Have you considered any cloud computing initiatives?