The cool thing about living in the blogosphere and the Twittersphere is how you stumble across new people with new ideas. I recently went to Pam Broviak's blog to read an entry entitled "Cloud Computing and Virtualization Aren't What you Think" and her entry made me realize that the trend toward virtualization is gaining momentum for the same reason that Web 2.0 tagging is.
In an uncollaborative 1.0 world, one user places a label on a file and stores it in their own hierarchy (gives it a name and places it in a single directory or folder on a computer -- often on a machine only accessible by that user while they are sitting in front of it). In a social collaboration world, things are placed out in the cloud and anyone with access to a document can place a tag on it (even if that tag has meaning to no one but that one person). What takes shape as a result of this individual tagging is that a fluid and flexible “folksonomy” develops to organize information instead of a rigid and outdated “taxonomy.” With a folksonomy, there are as many different ways to find a document as there are people who tagged it -- because the organizational structure is based on the entirety of how all users think about the document, rather than being based on the singularity of how one person, or one group of users or committee, thinks about the document.
When it comes to virtualization, why would you ever use 2.0 technologies to help you find information but then not use 2.0 technologies to physically access the information? I use Gmail because I want my email accessible on any device, from any place, at any time. I recommend hosted Microsoft Exchange with mobile access via Blackberry BES or Windows Mobile for my consulting clients because I want them to have similar access to information without the burden of running their own servers. I always insist on disaster recovery paradigms that include the cloud (MozY, Carbonite, etc.) because offsite replication is so much better than that USB hard drive sitting right next to the computer that will fail.
Pam's blog made me realize that virtualization and cloud computing are as much a part of Life 2.0 as wikis, blogs, and social bookmarking. In fact, there is no way the old paradigm of storing data and applications on a local machine can survive much longer. Yes, local machines in the future will still have storage memory and processing power to make the cloud smarter and faster, but the data will be more volatile. In the future, data and apps will only temporarily visit a local machine. They will live in the cloud. The only choice the end user needs to make is whether they want to carry around some cool, space-age device to access it (and many of them still will), but don't be surprised if many users who are not gadget gurus choose not to.