World Wide Computer – The Big Switch

Your PC’s hard drive used to be the center of computing is shifting out onto the Internet. More and more of the software and data we use lies on the Net, and we tap into it through our browsers. The World Wide Web is turning into a World Wide Computer. It’s similar to what happened with electricity utilities a century ago. Why run a waterwheel next to your factory when you can just plug into the grid ?

Individuals are leading this shift, particularly young people. We increasingly use online software to read our email, store and touch-up our photos, do our taxes , read encyclopedia articles, play games, and connect with friends on social networks. The whole Web 2.0 phenomenon is built on the ability to tap into shared software and data on the Web. I’d argue , in fact, that a large percentage of people already are spending more time using Web apps than installed programs. Who wants the hassle of buying and troubleshooting software when you can get it online easily and usually for free ?

Businesses will move to online computing more slowly, mainly because they have so much invested in their private hardware and software. But the success of pioneering utility computing vendors like Salesforce.com and Amazon Web Services shows the intrinsic ap-peal of letting suppliers buy the machinery and run the software.

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