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Defining Cloud Computing – Part 5: Desktops as a Service

February 20th, 2009

Desktops as a Service

Falling some somewhere between software and a platform are Cloud Desktops (also called a Cloud OS). These desktops run inside a browser and are accessible from any desktop with an internet connection.

A cloud desktop offers word processing, spreadsheets, development tools, networking tools and more. While relatively immature at this time, we can expect this market to grow significantly in the coming years, especially as more and more smart phones and ultraportables hit the real world.

Microsoft LiveMesh offers free storage, machine synchronization and a cloud based desktop. iCloud and g.ho.st both offer complete, robust desktops (including browsers, applications and storage) completely in the cloud. The greatest benefit to a cloud desktop is that all of your applications and data is accessible from any computer. The downside is that with no internet access, you have access to none of your data or applications.

EyeOS is a completely open source cloud OS that you can download and install in your own data center. It offers all of the expected functionality and installs as a simple PHP application on your Apache web server.

The nice part about these platforms at the moment is that most are completely free. Sign up, login and you have a virtual desktop off in the clouds. The business model of most of these (such as iCloud or g.ho.st) are subscriptions for enhanced services and extra capabilities (such as bandwidth or disk space).

The other significant aspect of these cloud desktops is the ability to run desktop quality applications, such as word processors and spreadsheets, from a phone. Business at internet speeds and internet availability.

It remains to be seen whether cloud desktop catch on but SaaS in general is here to stay. It’s easy to use, cheap and covers just about any category of software that you might use.

Throw in a pair of virtual world gloves and goggles and it’s almost like science fiction.

LewisC

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