The case for living in the cloud

These days one cannot have a day without hearing the cloud; vendors are pushing it. Google’s Chrome Book is already nothing but the cloud. Apple’s iOS and Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 also have increase cloud features. Until now, I have been skeptical about the cloud. Apart from the security, my primary concern is what if I lose the connection to the internet.

Recently, I have been migrating to the cloud. The main reason is that I triple boot my laptop now. I once run Windows 7 as my primary OS and anything else as virtual machines. However, the performance of these virtual machines has been less than ideal. The Windows 7 Virtual PC would not run 64bit OS, so I have to rely on Virtual Box to run Windows 2008 R2. Recently, I have been booting Windows 8 Developers Preview and Sharepoint/Windows 2008 from VHD. This is the my currently most satisfying configuration. Although the VHD is slightly slower than the real hard drive, I have the full access to the rest of the hardware. The issue I am facing now is that I need to access my data no matter which OS I boot with. That motivate me to migrate to the cloud.

My primary data are my email, document and code.

Email is least of my concern. Both Google and Hotmail have been offering ample space for me to store my email. I do download a copy email into Windows 7 so I can access them when I do not have access to the internet.

Documents also have been easier. Google has been offering Google Docs as well as web based document editing for a while. Recently, Microsoft has been offering 25GB of free space on Windows Live Skydrive. From Skydrive, I can edit documents using Office Web Apps. So accessing and editing document from a boot OS that does not have Office installed is no longer a concern. From Office 2010, it is possible to save documents directly to Skydrive. In addition, Windows Live Mesh can automatically sync the local file system with Skydrive.

Lastly, there are many free online source code versioning systems. Microsoft Codeplex, Google Code and Git, just to name a few, all offer free source code versions systems for open source projects. Other vendors such BitBucket also offer source control for close source projects. Open source version control software such as TortoiseHg or TortoiseSVN are easy to get. The free Visual Studio Express is also becoming more useful for real world projects; the recent Windows 8 Developer Preview has Visual Studio Express 11 preinstalled.

So my conclusion is that the currently available services and software are sufficient to my needs and I am ready to live in the cloud.

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