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Three key things about Apple's iCloud

Brad Reed, Network World | June 7, 2011
With the unveiling of its iCloud service Monday, Apple is hoping you’ll like the new MobileMe.

Yes, most of the features mentioned above are geared toward the consumer market rather than the enterprise market. But as we’ve seen over the last few years, workers who have consumer-centric devices will want to have access to work e-mail and data on their iPhones, Droids, and Evos as well as their BlackBerrys. So if you’re working in an IT department, now’s a good time to figure out ways to wall off sensitive corporate data from being tossed into the cloud. After all, let’s say that Jimmy the Engineer meant to upload pictures of his kids’ graduation onto the iCloud but also accidentally uploads pictures of his company’s new device prototype onto the iCloud as well. Then if a hacker somehow gets access to Jimmy’s iCloud account, well, it could be bad news.

“No doubt you’re going to see significant security issues with people uploading different things to the cloud,” says Nemertes Research analyst Andreas Antonopoulos. “You saw that over the weekend with the Chinese hackers who hacked into government officials’ Gmail accounts. Why were those people using Google for e-mail when they’ve already been issued secure BlackBerrys?”

In other words, IT departments are going to have to find a way to deny permission to sync sensitive corporate documents or pictures over the iCloud.

Three: It’s likely to draw more people into the Apple Borg.

Apple’s goal has long been to use the computer as a hub for all personal and home entertainment applications, whether it involves listening to music, watching movies, surfing the Web or making phone calls. With iTunes, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, Apple successfully branched out to create a line of popular products that acted as complimentary add-ons to its laptops and other computers. Giles Cottle, a senior analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media, notes that Apple’s success has come even though it has eschewed the open-source philosophy of companies like Google, whose Android mobile platform can be modified by device manufacturers to be customized for different devices.

“Apple’s tight control of its device ecosystem means that iCloud is much more likely to, as Steve Jobs puts it, ‘just work,’” writes Cottle. “Apple’s total control of the device and content ecosystem has been heavily criticized in the past, but, if iCloud works as well in practice as it did in today’s demo, it’s a stunning validation of the power of closed ecosystems.”

Forester Research analyst Frank Gillett, meanwhile, thinks that Apple’s strong standing among consumers will make cloud computing a consumer staple in the same way the iPod made portable digital music a staple. What’s more, he thinks potential Apple competitors will have a tough time catching up.


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