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4/13/2010
05:15 PM
David Linthicum
David Linthicum
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Is iPad a Cloud Device?

I received a bunch of calls from the press last week around the release of the Apple iPad. "It's a cloud computing device," according to them. Thus, what kind of impact will the iPad have on cloud computing?

I received a bunch of calls from the press last week around the release of the Apple iPad. "It's a cloud computing device," according to them. Thus, what kind of impact will the iPad have on cloud computing?

I actually purchased an iPad this week. While it's very well designed and rather pricey, I don't see anything revolutionary about the iPad. Indeed, as most don't understand in the context around the iPad hype, pad computing has been around for a long time. For me personally, the only applications I've found for it have been reading the Kindle edition of my book, and watching videos on a plane. Laptops are just too big to open up in coach.I'm not sure how the iPad and cloud computing became so tightly coupled, but perhaps it was around this recent rant by Greenpeace against the growth of cloud computing providers who support the rise of network-oriented client devices, such as the iPad. They view the use of cloud computing as a force that will create more data centers, thus require more power, thus cloud computing is bad for the planet. That's an argument for another blog, but they clearly created those links.

More links occurred this week when Rackspace released a cloud management application for the iPad. Can you say "bandwagon jumping?" It's the perfect time to ride the hype around the iPad to get a bunch of free press. At the end of the day, this is not much different than using the browser to manage your cloud provider, which all of them already offer. But now you can say, "There is an app for that."

Truth-be-told, the iPad has about as much to do with cloud computing as any device that can connect to the Web. While any appliance, which is what this really is, needs to have a robust back-end infrastructure to support the native applications, from on-line banking to Twitter, there is not much new here that we've not seen before. Not the architecture, the concept, or even the technology. It looks a bit better, I will give you that.

The larger issue here is one of confusion around cloud computing, and the press, analysts, and even the end users tossing everything that looks like it's Internet-delivered into the cloud computing bucket. Using that approach, everything is cloud computing, and thus cloud computing becomes much less meaningful and thus impactful.

If there is any way to describe cloud computing, it's about innovation. It's about using the commoditization of bandwidth and thus a connected world to leverage shared assets in meaningful and productive ways. It's about leveraging resources that were typically overpriced and enterprise data center-oriented, as services that are Internet-delivered, and through sharing and economies of scale, finally available to those who need them, as they need them.

So, is the iPad a cloud computing device? Nope. But it is driving the conversations these days, and I don't view that as a necessarily bad thing.I received a bunch of calls from the press last week around the release of the Apple iPad. "It's a cloud computing device," according to them. Thus, what kind of impact will the iPad have on cloud computing?

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