There's a lot of hype about cloud computing and mobility these days. In fact, Marc Ferranti comments in Network World that the venture capital market is opening up to more investments in social networking and cloud computing. It seems like a lot of people (and the smart money folks) do indeed "get it." That said, what some still fail to see is how mobility is a key enabler and driver of all of this activity.
In the Internet 1.0 world, people had desktops that connected them to each other. It made no difference that applications were stored on local machines while data lived out in the cloud. However, as people became more mobile and started using more devices to interact, it became significantly more difficult for that paradigm to evolve. While solutions that allowed people to control their desktop from any device were an important middle step in the evolution toward the cloud, the ultimate goal of cloud computing is to eliminate the local machine altogether as the single portal through which users interact.
It's no surprise that the biggest cloud-based apps are social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. These paradigms can only work in a cloud-based model – and that cannot be emphasized enough. It is only when the "cloud" can analyze all of the data submitted and managed by every user in a community that a cloud-based app can map out all of the social interrelationships between users. In turn, this enables the app to filter, organize, and present only the most relevant information to any given user.
Web 2.0 cannot thrive under a client-server model. To achieve critical adoption, users must be able to access an application anytime, anywhere, from any device. The fact that some end users may still only access any given application from their desktop at the office is irrelevant. The reason mobility is so important for the success of cloud computing is that it allows all users to access an application via the method that is most appropriate for them. Even if only 20 percent of users are mobile power users (or even if most users are only mobile two to five percent of the time), having mobile access to the cloud is a a sine qua non of cloud computing. And it looks like most of the smart money agrees.
Mobility is so important to our future that President Obama recently announced support to double the amount of mobile bandwidth available for wireless users over the next decade. With high-bandwidth 4G services already launched, cloud computing is poised to move to the next level, a level that will let mobile users not only tweet, but probably roar as well.