Bob, we are using cloud in our company for various purposes. One example is we had hosted our design service in a central server and all the design engineers can access, modify or reprint the design modules through internal cloud.
If I may, let me ask--do you see the cloud; i.e. cloud computing, being the direction engineering documentation is going? I retired from a Fortune 500 company and we had bank after bank of storage for our CAD data--drawings, sketches, etc etc. Accessing that storage was not that difficult but when all of the CAD files migrated to India, it really became a problem. Access was take a number. How would the cloud alleviate that problem or would it?
I have learned that –( In general ) – the more prolific or pervasive a phenomenon becomes, that the "public masses" will latch onto anything that more easily helps them to understand it better.
Case in Point: have you seen the newest Verizon TV commercials that depict 4G connectivity from a smartphone-? It shows a laboratory of scientists in white jackets pulling the proverbial Dr. Frankenstein electro-lever to unleash a bolt of lightning into the anxious, waiting 4G customer's new smartphone.
Ridiculous. The lightning bolt must have come from "The Cloud".
"I'm just trying to preach the understanding that the "The Cloud" is merely the growth of the internet phenomenon"
Jim, you are right. It's another offering from IT due to its potential growth. Eventhough we are using cloud offerings in different ways (Gmail, Picasso, Google doc etc), now only peoples started marketing the buzz word "Cloud".
The cloud sounds a lot like a remote server, only not all in one place. Using a program of some kind that resides someplace else, and storing files in a manner that probably does not allow them to be accessed except through that particular program, and really not having any way to really know just where those files actually are, or who else may wind up with access to them, that is what the cloud sounds like to me. A great idea "except for a few small problems", and having to pay somebody for services that may or not have a value great enough to justify what we are paying.
So my evaluation of "the cloud" is perhaps a bit less trusting than many. After all, the cloud undoubtedly uses a few "buggy" programs from that company with thye buggy reputation.
To me, the "Cloud" looks suspiciously like how we used to do things thirty or more years ago- one would punch up a deck of cards, then transmit the data via a telephone modem to a centralized computer, then wait for the computer to spit back the results. (this was way before Al Gore invented the internet). Granted, communications speeds have improved by several orders of magnitude, and data entry methods have become a bit more user friendly, but the process is essentially the same- the real design work is done by the operator at the terminal, not by whatever processor is chosen to assimilate the data into human-readable form (i.e., graphics renderings of lists of points, edges, volumes, etc.). And with the power of today's PC workstations, I don't see any compelling need to offload the work to a remote server, unless you are designing a large, intricate system. Even with large, intricate systems, I venture that the design process begins at the same point my much simpler design projects begin- hand sketches on paper. The tools have improved significantly over the years, but the process is the same...
Now, as to "renting" software rather than buying it: design software, and analysis software such as FAE, CFD, multi-physics simulations, etc., are all very complicated, and one does not gain expertise in a few minutes at a terminal. It takes months to become profecient with a particular software package, and, usually, several days to re-aclimatize oneself to the latest "required" upgrade from the typical software developer. this issue is especially important for the "casual" user...
If one relies on a third party to maintain the software, one loses control over the upgrade cycle, and may find that one must spend time relearning becasue the software package has changed. Then, there is the issue of version compatibility (I still maintain a Win 98SE system becasue I need access to "ancient" work that was created with software in a format that newer packages cannot access). Will you be able to access your data five years from now?
And, of course, the Internet is not always available when you need your data. Just ask the victims of Sandy how long it took to regain access to their cloud-stored data...
Overall, I see "cloud computing" as a marketing scheme for generating new revenue streams for products that are generally over-priced in the first place.
IMO, the cloud is nothing more than a means to offload mass data storage to a 3rd party. So, if you design in the cloud your data is stored there and anyone with credentials has access to it. The innovation, if we want to call it that, is the use of todays faster internet connections to make it workable.
I think it's a natural evolution of internet business, and what makes it a good thing is smaller companies (like the one I work for) can keep resources more concentrated on core, value added tasks and less on overhead.
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