As one of the biggest waves of technology to ever hit the planet, mobile computing devices are changing many things. The divide between work and leisure is fading. Power is ever more in the hands of customers compared to manufacturers and service providers. And cloud storage use is changing too, but not for the same reasons. The fact is that mobile computing devices even with their 16 or 32 gigabytes of memory are still storage-constrained compared to what users want to do. What better solution therefore than to systematically upload data to the cloud from the mobile device to make room for the next batch of information (photos, video and music clips, apps) that will arrive, hot on the heels of the preceding one?
Offloading Both Data and Apps
Using the cloud as the storage back-end for mobile is also motivated by limitations of mobile device processors. Although these have increased in power immensely over the recent past, offloading processing to cloud servers allows mobile devices to save on precious resources such as battery power. Storing both the application and the data required for the app in the cloud therefore helps to improve the performance of a mobile device in several ways. With web-browser access from the mobile device, just the results can be displayed on the user’s mobile screen, instead of having to do resource intensive calculation or data storage.
How’s Your Signal?
Uploading gigabytes of information from mobiles to the cloud is a new ball game compared to conventional desktop backup. Users with PCs and connections over DSL lines don’t have to worry about signal strength fading. But those with mobile devices are still dependent on the quality of the mobile radio network (apart from Wi-Fi connections). They may also suffer power outages as batteries run down, causing further interruptions in file transfer. Mobile cloud storage applications must take into account these possibilities.
Some Strengths May Be Weaknesses
A number of the strengths of mobile devices may become weaknesses in certain situations. Privacy in data upload and download and access for viewing are examples. The whereabouts of a mobile user are indicated by the geo-localization built into the device; by comparison, in conventional PCs the IP address can be masked or disguised. The compactness of mobile devices limits their computing resources and the possibilities for encrypting data files before uploading them. Although many cloud providers offer encryption once the data is in the cloud, some users may prefer this to be done before uploading, for added security.
And Some Weaknesses May Be Strengths
Moving data and apps into the cloud allows mobile data management and computing to scale upwards far beyond the capacity of even the latest smartphones and tablets. It also lets ‘feature-phone’ or non-smartphone users in on the deal because they can also benefit from cloud storage and computing power. International Data Corporation (IDC) sees a new combination of mobile devices, apps, broadband networks and cloud services together with big data and social networks, driving a huge part of the growth in the ICT (integrated computer telephony) market and the IT market in general over the next five to seven years. While that does not guarantee that all the issues above will be completely resolved, the potential in sales should go a long way to motivate vendors to make ‘best efforts’ for that to be so.