Cloud Computing

An interesting paper entitled Cloud computing within Government put out by ITWire was recently made available.

Part of the ITWire Round table talks, the paper contains views from vendors and government agencies on cloud computing and its possible usage by government agencies.

The major factor keeping government agencies from using cloud computing services is the lack of standards and security which are fundamental for government records. There are also requirements for some Australian government data that are also yet to addressed (personal datat cannot be held offshore or not be controlled by Australians).
Though as stated in the paper, these issues should not apply to freely available data that is explicity made available for public use, such as that in data.gov.au.

A form of cloud computing is already in wide use by individuals (Google Docs, Microsoft SkyDrive) and of course your personal email account, Flickr photo’s etc. are all managed and stored elsewhere. Cloud computing elevates that so that an organisations entire IT infrastructure can be hosted elsewhere, but unlike personal use, it would not be free. Whether once cloud computing is standards based and secure there will be cost savings substantial enough to host all IT services there as opposed to maintaining it on an organisations site, is yet to be seen. The options have been likened to buying a house or renting a house, do you want to pay up front a large sum and be liable for ongoing maintenance etc or do you want to rent space and move to another platform whenever you wish. Both have costs, I suspect though that for many organisations the renting option will be preferred.

Larger organisations themselves who have capacity could of course offer cloud services to smaller organisations. Thus a large library could offer services to a number of smaller distributed libraries, thus saving costs all round.

Waves in motion

Having briefly looked at Google Wave, it’s been interesting to follow conversations happening with people who are currently using the beta version and to get a bit of a look in to what people are envisaging they might be able to use Google Wave for.

I’m looking forward to getting to grips with this emerging technology when it finally surfaces from betadom.

Riding the Wave

Currently in the Google test shed is Google Wave, a new hosted integrated communications suite. It is designed to facilitate real time communication and incorporates features such as email, calendars/scheduling with mutliple participants, link and file sharing as well as in-line editing of documents by multiple users. It also has a “playback” feature so that users who join the “wave” (the name for each communication) at a later stage in the conversation can be brought quickly up to speed with the wave’s history.

Google Wave has a range of developer built gadgets and bots that can assist users in riding the wave. For example, there are bots to interface with other services (such as Twitter), or ones that can translate text in real time. You can even publish directly from your wave to your (Blogger) blog and repsonses to your wave (on the blog or in-wave) will automatically update in both the wave and blog spaces.  More information about these features can be seen in this video.

The code behind Google Wave will be made open source to encourage further user-driven enchancements.