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To The Cloud – Is Microsoft Helping or Hindering Mainstream Understanding of Cloud Computing?

February 28th, 2011 @ 10:02 GMT by Richard Stowey

Cloud computing has been around for a while now. With Microsoft’s “to the Cloud” advertising campaigns, its started a journey into the mainstream. I’m not sure people are getting the full understanding of what Cloud is though.

The mainstream understanding of Cloud based services is in part due to the popularity of services which use distributed computing and storage. Sites like Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and many more use cloud computing for speed, scalability, reliability, redundant capcity and it’s low cost.

Microsoft’s recent big push on cloud computing involves advertising showing regular consumers in their homes with a problem, they then suddenly switch “to the Cloud” to get the answer or help with the solution.

I’d like to just make a couple of points about these adverts:

1. Not The Cloud

In one example, a woman at home wants to take a reasonable photo of her family. Quite understandable and believable. She has a range of photos on her regular PC, and then she switches “to the Cloud” at which point her hardware changes and suddenly she is able to make the changes she needs.

What’s missing here?

  1. Why does she need a better computer? Cloud computing is completely hardware independant, so you don’t need a new computer to use it.
  2. The software she appears to be using is Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011. The website clearly prompts users to download now. Clearly not Cloud hosted Software as a Service (SaaS) application!

The advertising campaigns advertiste two things, Windows Live and a new PC. Both of these have nothing to do with Cloud computing.

2. You’re already using the Cloud.

Using cloud computing to fix up your photographs is completely possible. Piknik does just this, and even integrates nicely with Flickr, transferring your high resolution image whilst editing and then passing it back to your Flickr account once complete.

Twitter, Flickr and Facebook use Cloud in order to host massive amounts of data and allow millions of people to access their services instantly all over the world, via many different platforms.

37 Signals uses the Cloud for storage and SaaS solutions across all of their software. They pay for what they use and can direcly charge people for what they use. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

3. B2C verses B2B

The advertising campaigns from Microsoft clearly show people in their own homes using the cloud for what they want to do. So why, oh why, is the website aimed at businesses?

Surely, if you’re selling home PC’s to people wanting to manage tasks like photo and video editing in their own home, then you should have a website which helps them to find cloud based services in order to do this?

4. Do these adverts have a use?

So, even though these adverts are:

  1. advertising to a completely different market than the online supporting material is targetted at,
  2. incinuating that people should purchase a new piece of hardware in order to use the cloud, and
  3. suggesting that a regular photo editing application is being used on the Cloud,

is Microsoft performing any beneficial act? NO! They are making the word Cloud more mainstream, but I’m sure that their actions are misleading people and giving them a false understanding of what “to the Cloud” should mean.

Come on Microsoft. Stop advertising services which aren’t directly using the Cloud, and help people really understand its power. Sort it out!

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