Cloud computing: Is the desktop dead?

Does a desktop full of files and installed applications make you feel secure? Do you like to know that everything that’s mission critical is on a computer that you either carry around with you or visit “in person” at the office?

Whether or not your organization has implemented or is considering GSuite (Google), Office365 (Microsoft), or some other cloud-based productivity suite, you’ve no doubt noticed that the push is upward to the cloud, not downward to the device. Rather than primarily being a box to hold all your tools and materials, it is becoming more a portal that opens to those things wherever they happen to reside.

Some applications and data continue to “live” on the hard drive, but more and more they are accessed from the cloud. There are three distinct advantages of this modus operandi: security, space, and availability of the latest and greatest tools.

Many people believe that the cloud is less secure than their own computers or company servers because they don’t have direct control over the boxes. However, consider the level of security you’re able to provide this equipment and data. Ask anyone who’s suffered a fire, flood, or even left one in the back of a rental car.

The biggest cloud providers have invested millions in cyber security, physical security, and redundancy. In the blink of an eye, the application you are using and the file you are editing switch over to another server in another location. You don’t even notice it.

Remember the last time, your computer went south? How long did it take you to get back up and running? Trusting someone else might feel uncomfortable at first, but doing your due diligence on the service provider and reading the service level agreement for your subscription should help ease some of that tension.

The other advantage to this new trend is that disk space isn’t as much of an issue as it used to be. With the primary storage moving to the cloud by the terabyte and the cost of online storage staying relatively low, you don’t have to worry about running out of space.

You can bring files local when you need them by synching them, then “unsynch” them, leaving them safe and sound in the cloud. And many of these online storage services have version control, facilitating the storage of multiple copies of a file in its entirety just to be able to reset to a previous version.

On the application front, Google paved the way with its free online services, originally Google Docs, now Google Drive and GSuite. One huge advantage of the online platform was the ability to collaborate on files in real time.

Microsoft came on board with Office 365, which better addressed the needs of business and enterprise, including online collaboration in SharePoint Online. Even though there is a desktop download option for Office 365, it is conceivable that most users could stay on the online version of the traditional versions of the apps. More and more featured are being added to the online versions all the time.

The prospect of working nearly entirely in the cloud can seem daunting, but think about how often you are connected to the internet.

Will we be in an all cloud world someday soon? Maybe. Regardless of how rapidly that becomes reality, embracing the changing platform and the crisp pace of innovation will go a long way to make sure you are working with the best tools available for your business.