Today I was reminded of my early life in the Apple PC world when someone asked me a question in regards to fixing an old Macintosh Plus computer.
The Macintosh Plus computer was the third model in the Macintosh line, introduced on January 16, 1986, two years after the original Macintosh and a little more than a year after the Macintosh 512K, with a price tag of US $2599.
Let me tell you a short story. Many years ago, I purchased an Apple Macintosh SE and then later purchased a PowerPC 6100 series computer. Both of these computers made life working with a PC fun. Of course, I am using the term “PC” in a generic form here. The 6100 brought color (actual color monitor) into my computer life, and it even trail blazed the path to the Internet when most people didn’t have a clue what the “Internet” was about, nor had they even hear the “Web” term, or being “online” with a computer.
I was an early alpha and beta tester for the Mosaic browser which was the precursor for Netscape Navigator, which ultimately morphed into Mozilla Firefox. Mosaic’s direct descendant on the coder line, via Marc Andreessen, was Netscape Navigator. Netscape Navigator’s code descendant is Mozilla Firefox. It was around this time I started doing some basic website customization and web design for fun.
I knew the early Apples inside and out. However, the business world was using mostly all DOS PCs with software from Microsoft and IBM. So, when Microsoft introduced Windows 95 and then Windows 98 and ME became available, and PC makers were starting to build computers for the masses, my wife and I purchased a Tiny Computer, which was not so tiny after all, but was a brand name manufacturer of computers.
Tiny Computers, was Britain’s third largest computer manufacturer at the time, based in Redhill Business Park in Salfords, Redhill in Surrey, England. The Tiny brand of computers were sold in the United States at retail outlets at extremely competitive pricing. Tiny used the advertising slogan ‘Think big about your PC – think Tiny.” During the late 1990s they were a highly successful firm having units throughout the major retail stores of the UK, but their profits eventually began to fall due to competition from other major computer brands and they were bought out of Administration by their rival TIME. However if you look around now, there seems to be a lot of new tiny computers, i.e. mini laptops such as Acer, ASUS , HP Mini, Dell Mini, other Netbooks, Apple MacBook Air, Apple iPad, and a host of other manufacturers’ netbooks and minis are now on the landscape.
As the electronics in these computer devices have shrunk, the power within the boxes have expanded exponentially. Battery technology has greatly improved along the way, making the devices quite portable in their usage for long periods of time. However, that does not really paint the whole picture of what is going on today. We tend to think of the computer as a device we store things in, and a device we use for emailing, writing, and even research through the Internet. We store documents, pictures, songs, programs, books, track our finances, and do social networking with our friends and relatives all over the world using the PC, and now even using our smart phones like the iPhone and Androids to quickly post a picture, send a message, or check our emails.
What many of us fail to realize is the impact that the cloud is making on our lives, and how the PC might simply be a thing of the past in our thinking. In fact, it is quite likely that the near future, the PC will simply be a device that is so cheap, and common place that it will be like having a watch on your wrist. Just about everyone has a watch, and very few get excited about having one. Yes, you might want a Rolex, but seeing the time on a Timex will do just fine.
First off, what is the cloud? Or, what is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).
Believe it or not, most of us use cloud computing every day. In fact, I am using cloud computing just writing this document. As I type this document on my MacBook Pro, the computer is simply being used as a terminal that is tied into my web host server, where my website is located, where I have WordPress blogging software and content management software installed, and where the physical files are stored.
Another form of cloud computing is Google’s Gmail application, where all the emails are stored online, and access is provided through all types of devices, i.e. PCs, Apple laptops, iPads, netbooks, iPhones, Android smart phones, and even our new smart TVs have Internet access capabilities. Even the Amazon Kindle, Kindle Touch, and Kindle Fire, Full Color 7″ Multi-touch Display, has Internet Wi-Fi access available for it. The days of using one PC device for everything is long gone. In fact, that is one of the reasons the cloud is here to stay. People want instantaneous access to their information through all the different electronic devices available to them. They want to be able to check their email from the cell phone, or check their friends Facebook pages from their iPad, or conference on their laptop when on the road, or even download a new book to read when ever they want.
No doubt about it, this generation is living in the cloud whether they realize it or not. Now, even businesses are moving to the cloud too. The same things that have occurred in the consumer world is also happening in the business world. Companies are looking for ways of reducing their costs, and one area of expense that are being looked at with a critical eye is the IT department. IT departments have traditionally had their plates full. They have had to juggle all types of activities; server integration, software, backups, computer laptops and desktops, email configuration, email maintenance, email backups, and one of the most important items, security. All of this adds up to big money. The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind, it is in the cloud.
Google Apps for business is one of the cost saving enterprise solutions available for small, medium, or any large business today. With the adaptation of Google Apps integration for a business, a company can realize enormous savings, reduced headaches, elimination of concern over hardware server problems, backups, power outages, and of having to deal with other interface items related to PC hardware, software, email integration, and more.