Cloudy, with not a cloud in the sky
I love the clouds. Over the last five years, more and more of my stuff has ended up in them, and touch wood, I’ve loved every minute. (For the avoidance of doubt, every minute here means every minute with the exception of the many minutes of Google Apps/Mail outages we’ve had over the last few months. Although even those were somewhat enjoyable, watching as the Twitterati speculated as to the cause of the outage and bemoaned their lack of email.)
For those not in the know, the cloud means somewhere other than my laptop. Generally, a big building (called a data centre) in a location unbeknown (and indeed unbecared) to me full of machines (servers) on which my stuff (stuff) resides.
To allow others to understand the objects of my affection, and maybe even get a piece of the action, I thought I’d share the cloud technologies I use. In no specific order, they are:
- Google Apps: my email, calendar and some experimental documents are all stored online by Google. Cost: free, although I’m occasionally tempted to upgrade to the $50 per user per year model. I’m always discouraged though, because the per user costing model includes my admin@, info@ accounts and people whose accounts I create temporarily on my domain for a wealth of reasons.
- Google AdWords: my company’s advertising is managed by Google, and all of the advertising collateral, together with the associated tracking statistics, sits online, again hosted by Google. Beyond the cost of advertising, there’s no specific fee for the associated hosting.
- WordPress: my blog and website reside in a cloud, albeit a little one, in Jersey (Channel Islands), hosted by my mate Rob. Cost: free, for the moment.
- Flickr: all of my photos are stored by Yahoo! in their Flickr application. Not the most inspiring application, but it stores the photos themselves along with useful metadata (privacy, tags, geo-tags, groupings etc.) Cost: $25 per year.
- Huddle: my business documents all now reside on Huddle, allowing me to share them others with full version control and supporting workflow allowing me to assign tasks to others. I’m quite new to this one, but so far, I’ve found it quite neat. Cost: free for my current package
- Zoho CRM: I use this to track business leads and the various communications I have had with them. Cost: free for my current package
- FreshBooks: I use this for all of my invoicing. A delightful little application allowing fully branded invoicing supported by an email notification engine and tracking of payments
Beyond the above, there are other trivial examples of cloud-living, such as my online banking, as well as Google Reader, Twitter and Facebook. Thinking about it, these examples are only trivial, I think, because there was never a local computing equivalent.
All of the above means that I can use and access much of my stuff from anywhere. I fully encourage you to do the same. It’s a wonderful world, and you should embrace its wonderfully warm fluffiness with open arms.