Google Drive is now being integrated with Google’s lighweight, essentially mobile-oriented Chrome operating system. This could be crucial to the future of both products. But more important, it underlines the symbiotic relationship between mobility and the cloud.
Talk about “thin clients” and remote storage has been around for years. But it is no coincidence that it finally began to catch on at the same time as mobile use takes off. And while the mobile trend has been largely consumer-driven, it has broad implications for IT at midsize firms. Most business computer use is by “consumers” of IT services. Mobility has impacted them in much the same way that it has impacted the general consumer public.
As reported by Stephen Shankland at CNET, Google Drive is being incorporated into the lastest release of the Chrome operating system (version 20.0.1116.0). The integration was announced in a Chrome blog post.
For the Chrome OS, it is a critical step. The browser-based operating system achieves compactness at the price of a limited file-management system. And until now, the only way to make files saved on Chrome available elsewhere was by taking a fairly clunky user action, such as emailing a document to yourself.
Now, anything done through the Chrome OS will be integrated automatically and seamlessly into Drive’s cloud. Said Chrome OS product manager Scott Johnston, “It’s as if you have a local disk, but it happens to be stored in the cloud.”
Multiple Devices and the Cloud
The Chrome OS is not “mobile” in the same sense that Android is, designed specifically for smartphones and other very small mobile devices. But it is tailored for compact “Chromebooks,” which are certainly mobile in the sense of being carried along by their owners and used in various places.
More broadly, mobility goes along with having and using multiple devices. And therein lies a tale about data storage. So long as computer users typically worked on just one machine, storing data locally was simple, practical, and convenient. Having a work computer and a home computer didn’t really change this, since little data was shared between them.
But once the typical user has several devices, and wants to share data, whether personal music or work contacts, freely among them, the local-storage paradigm goes out the window. A local drive on one device is effectively “in the cloud” for all the other devices. So storage may as well really be in the cloud.
This mobile cloud paradigm does not just apply to consumers. For better or worse, it applies to IT as well. Mobile devices have come to work, and workplace computing access has gone on the road. Both trends mean that a midsize firm’s data can no longer be assumed to reside on local disks or even a local network.
For IT managers at these firms, it means some additional data management and data security headaches. But for the firms, it means greater flexibility. In any case, the symbiosis of mobility and the cloud is a fact of contemporary IT life.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Become a fan of the program on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.