Last time I wrote about cloud computing I made the point that using the internet (the cloud) for things such as voice communication (telephone) was more efficient than using a land-line phone. Hey! Where’s the Computer?
But wait. The cloud is more than just efficient. The cloud is creating a revolutionary change in the way people live and do business. We are moving from owning computers and software to renting computers and software. We are in the midst of a sea-change in the way we think of computers and software. The cloud is making the office computer seem more like a utility, think electricity or natural gas, than something we have to own.
I could possibly call this the ‘Netflix’ revolution. Its not that Netflix is the only company doing this but it seems like a good example. Netflix supplies us movies, directly to our homes, over the cloud.
There was a time when, if I wanted to see a movie, I went to a movie theater. There was no other way. And that wasn’t all bad. It was cheap entertainment, got me out of the house, and I looked forward to it. ‘Going to the movies’ became part of our culture. It was often ‘at the movies’ that people met, fell in love, and later got married.
But times were changing and, for various reasons, convenience has become, more and more, something we all want. VCR’s were developed, and later, DVD’s. Within a decade or so watching movies at home became the thing to do. Why spend the time and money to go out when I can get the same thing at home. To some extent, the video store became the place where people met, fell in love, and later married.
Then, along came a little company called Netflix. There is a rumor, that when Netflix was first starting, (and struggling), the owners went to Blockbuster executives and asked if they could work with them. That didn’t go anywhere, but these were creative people and they tapped into our, seemingly insatiable, desire for convenience. They mailed us DVD’s and let us mail them back. No more losing a half hour of sleep taking a DVD back to the video store to avoid a late fee. In fact, for a lot of people, no more video store at all.
Nevertheless, people still seem to meet, fall in love, and marry.
Netflix became immensely popular. Now all I had to do was walk to my mailbox to get and return DVD’s. But movie fans could rent movies or subscribe to movie services on cable or satellite tv also. The creative execs at Netflix were too young to retire. So they began to serve movies directly to homes over the cloud. Want to watch a movie? Why wait til it gets to you in the mail. Plug in to Netflix, watch it now. There are estimates that, in the evening, up to 80% of all internet traffic is Netflix streaming movies.
But this is not about Netflix. This is about a whole new industry. While Netflix has been developing their cloud application, other companies, in other industries, have been developing cloud applications as well. Google got popular providing us with internet searching. Now they offer email services, phone services, and it seems like they come up with something new (and, often, free) every month or so. Google Docs is used by individuals and businesses as a worthy alternative to Microsoft Office, a software package we once thought we could not get along without.
A new industry has been born. Something that is often called Software as a Service, or SaaS. I’ve used Netflix as an example. Movies are, after all, a form of software. And delivering them, instantaneously through the cloud, to our homes, is a service. The same could be said of Google services. The Netflix/Google model began to take hold at all levels of the computer industry. Companies were already using remote computers to run their businesses. When sales people began offering complete applications, for a monthly fee, through the cloud, business owners, especially small to medium sized business owners, were ready to listen.
These days, in many businesses, looking for the ‘office computer’ makes about as much sense as looking for the office electrical generator, or the office gas well. The ‘office computer’ is something employees plug into, much like plugging the coffee pot into an electrical outlet. SaaS is rapidly becoming adopted by individuals and businesses as the way computing is done.
Oh, by the way, ApplicantStack is SaaS. We offer a hiring/recruitment package, complete with online employment applications and automated rating of applicants, through the cloud. No computer to own or software to buy. Kind of like Netflix, for a small monthly fee, all you have to do is plug in. Stay as long as you want. Leave when you want. No contract to sign.