Monday, September 21, 2009

Usability and the Cloud

I would argue that one of the benefits of the move towards cloud computing is improved usability. As more data is stored in the cloud, people need to manage it less, and fewer tasks mean more usable solutions.

Perhaps it's easier to illustrate with a "for instance":

Say you've got some newer computer users all using POP email into Outlook. Now they get new computers. Throw in multiple email accounts, some people sharing email addresses, and you've got yourself a real set of issues for most people.

Now, if you these same people had been using Gmail, hosted Exchange, or something like that, this process would have been a painless, 1-2-3 experience.

I'm not pretending that this ease of use doesn't come with some tradeoffs like ownership of data, service availability, and dependency on 3rd party systems.

But if you think about it, are most computer users more likely to have a system failure with inadequate backups or have a cloud provider go out of business? Delving into these issues is a topic for another time, but I hope you get my points.

For more advanced users, this may be an issue, but for a lot of people, removing system tasks from their scope of responsibility is a welcome change -- one that's worth the other risks that come with cloud services.

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