It May Be In The Cloud, But Does That Matter?

Historically we’ve asked customers about their network needs–how many locations, how many ports, etc.? But that conversation is changing. This is evidenced by the focus on applications throughout our business–mobility applications, telepresence, cloud computing and storage services—the list continues to grow.

When we have these types of conversations with customers, even if they’ve not yet considered cloud as a way to meet their network needs, it can be a major part of the solution.

For instance, when we’re talking about mobilizing a customer’s application, where does that application and customer data sit? In the cloud! If we’re talking about our information exchange and portal services, where does that information sit? In the cloud! Most recently I’ve been having more and more conversations with customers about virtualized desktop solutions. Where does the operating system and the applications that end users need sit? You guessed it—the cloud!

Let’s take that last example—virtualized desktops—and explore it further.

First we should define what desktop virtualization is. In a nutshell we are separating a personal computer desktop environment from a physical machine using a client–server model of computing. (For an extended definition, Wikipedia has a good one: Wikipedia – Desktop Virtualization.)

Imagine sitting down at your desk and having a box, slightly thicker than a DVD case, which plugs into the network, a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. You hit the “on” button and before you know it your virtual desktop is up and running. What’s different about this vs. what you do today with a laptop or desktop is that there is no hard drive in that DVD-sized box on your desk. Your operating system (Windows XP, Windows 7, et al) and all your applications (Outlook, Word, and so on) run from a remote data center. However, your experience is exactly the same as it’s always been—only you no longer have to worry about hard drive crashes, or the loss of data and applications if your laptop is ever stolen. All of your applications and data are stored in the cloud, not on the device.

These are the types of applications customers are talking about, and I think within five years we’ll see 90% of all customer applications being delivered from the cloud.

What do you think? What applications are you using today that rely on the cloud?
If it’s in the cloud, and it looks and feels the same to you, does it really matter?

I look forward to your comments and thoughts.

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