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Friday, February 1, 2013

Cloud Visions - Who Needs a Network Anyway?

Do we really need a network at work?  I asked myself that question again recently and the answer is much closer to "no" than it used to be. With the proliferation of cloud services it is becoming ever easier to be productive from anywhere.

In a future blog post, perhaps I will dive in to how each of these items works in the cloud.  For now, though I want to offer you a vision of how life could be working from the cloud... imagine with me...


English: A black-over-transparency representat...Moving to the cloud could be as easy as clicking a button.  Right now when you purchase a new computer at work you join it to your Active Directory domain, load software on it, configure your desktop settings, connect to some file shares on the server and then work in local productivity or client / server applications.

In the future, you could join your computer to the cloud!  Imagine you are a new employee that was just given a new laptop with Windows 9 (this is the future, right?) on it at a new job.  You start your computer and then select an option on the Windows start screen to "Join Cloud."  You type in your personal (non business) username and password.  Single sign-on technologies would connect your personal username with your work username after typing in your business credentials as well.  Your system admin would have already selected what personal non-business preferences would be allowed to transfer and those would be synchronized to your laptop from the cloud.  The business applications and settings assigned to you would populate icons on your task bar or menu as well as they synchronize to your computer from the Windows Intune cloud service.

Once your computer has been provisioned for the cloud and all of the services set up (seamlessly and without your assistance) you would open the SharePoint icon to begin your work for the day.  You would view the previous day or week of activity of people on your team, review the most recent all-hands address from the CEO, fill out online HR documents to sign up for your benefits, digitally sign your electronic deposit salary form and choose the best health insurance and IRA plans.

Image representing Windows Live SkyDrive as de...
You begin by placing a PowerPoint for your call this afternoon in your SkyDrive for later use then start working on a report for your manager.  From your team's SharePoint Team Site you go to the reports library, add a new document set and templates for two Microsoft Word documents are created after you choose a name for them.  You click on the first document and choose to open it in your computer's locally-installed copy of Microsoft Word 2015 (remember... this is the future).  You customize your Word settings to set the default document font and change around your ribbon settings.  You finish editing the document and it is then automatically saved back to SharePoint.  You begin working on the second document in a similar manner, but you get a call from a customer.

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...
A screen pops on your screen, showing you a picture of the person calling, pulled from their Facebook or Linkedin account.  You take the call on your headset using the Lync Online voice-to-phone service, close your Word document, unfinished, and then transfer the call to your mobile phone as you walk out the door to lunch.  You transfer the call to your car's audio system and complete it hands free.  Late because of the unexpected call, you hurry to lunch.  As you finish eating and return to your car, you attend a webinar hosted in Lync from your phone but displaying wirelessly on your car's touchscreen display.  A notification displays on the car's display that the webinar is about to begin.  You click "Connect to Conference",  announce yourself and are admitted.  You see the slides being presented, video of the presenter talking and then participate in the conference yourself using the camera in your car while sharing the PowerPoint presentation that you stored in your SkyDrive this morning simply by choosing it from the app on your phone.

Instead of returning to the office you decide to work from home in the afternoon.  Unfortunately, you left your laptop at work though and you don't have Word 2015 installed at home.  After logging in to your home computer you connect to SharePoint, visit your team's site, find the document you didn't finish, click to open it and choose to edit it in Word.  Since you don't have Word installed you are prompted to wait while Word streams to your home computer.  After 20 or 30 seconds, Word opens and your document appears, ready for editing, along with your customized ribbon settings and default font!  You finish your document and close Word at which point SharePoint automatically notifies your boss that the report is ready to approve and send on to a customer.

Tired after a full day of very productive work you grab a beer and watch a remastered 3d holographic version of I Love Lucy in your home theater with your robot, Hal.

English: The famous red eye of HAL 9000So... how much of this is real and how much is fantasy?  Aside from that last bit with the beer, robot and 3d I Love Lucy, the technology for all of this exists today.  Some of it needs a bit more polishing and the parts where you "Join Cloud" and take a video call in your car are my idea... and possible... but haven't been built yet.  All in all, though, you can work pretty much "in the cloud" right now... using Microsoft technologies you're already familiar with.  And you can pay for all of this as you use it, buying only what you need and when you need it on a monthly subscription.

The Cloud is Here.  Love it.

Here's a list of several technologies I mention above and some others as well.  For each I show the old way and the cloud way.  Please feel free to add your own comments about how the cloud will change how we work.

Feature / ProductThe Old WayIn the Cloud
Administration
AntispamMessaging Gateway ProtectionHosted E-mail Security Services Acting as Secondary Delivery Points (Microsoft Forefront Online Protection for Exchange)
AntivirusServer and Client ApplicationsEndpoint Protection with Malware and Spyware Protection,
Back up and Disaster RecoveryTapes, Optical Media, Hard Drives, Backup AppsHybrid and Tiered Storage with Cloud Archives
Device ManagementGroup Policy & System Center Configuration ManagerWindows Intune
Identify ManagementActive DirectoryAzure Active Directory
Collaboration
Document CollaborationE-mail and Server File SharesSharePoint Online and Lync Online
Electronic CommunicationExchange E-mail ServerOffice 365 Exchange Online
File SharingWindows Server NTFS File SharesSharePoint Online & SkyDrive Pro
Instant Messging and PresenceICQ, MSN / AOL / Yahoo Messengers, Google TalkLync Online with Public Federation
Meetings and ConferencingPhysical Conference Rooms & WebExLync Online Video and Audio Conferences with an Integrated Conference Bridge
Mobile CommunicationWork Pager or Cell PhoneBring Your Own Device, mobile VoIP client (like Lync w/Jajah)
Placing Phone CallsPhone Systems, Copper Cables, Wired HandsetsVoIP Phone Systems and Computers with Headsets and VoIP Clients (like Lync w/Jajah)
Productivity
Document ManagementFile Cabinets, File Sharing, Scanner ApplicationsSharePoint Online
Office Applications (word processing, spreadsheets, accounting or ERP)Local or client/server Installation via EXE or MSI FilesStreaming Office On Demand, Click To Run, Web Clients, RDP to Hosted Apps
Printing & FaxingPaper & Snail Mail or Printed FaxesPDF, Scanning and Electronic Delivery
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