The Cloud Gets Personal

The “cloud”—once the purview of IT geeks and software developers—has gotten personal. For several years, there’s been a movement to transition software from the desktop or local server to the cloud (which, most broadly defined, just means Internet-enabled, on-demand network access to a shared pool of computing resources that can be rapidly accessed and used with minimal management effort).

One example is Web-to-print software, typically offered as Saas (software-as-a-service), but which has more recently been referred to as cloud-based. But in the past year, especially with the introduction of iCloud, Apple’s foray into offering cloud-based services to individuals, the cloud is getting decidedly personal.

Recently, Google joined Apple (iCloud) and Amazon (Whispersync) with the introduction of its contribution to the field of personal cloud-based file saving and sharing, called Google Play. Google is marketing the free Google Play as a way to share all of one’s personal digital stuff—music, books, movies, apps—across all of one’s digital devices instantly. It has built a very iTunes-like store where one can find all of the above mentioned digital stuff, sans iPhone/iPad apps. (Android-only, thank you very much!)

Cloud printing is another player in this area, a place where Google plays, as well, with its Google Cloud Print. Google isn’t the first or only vendor in this space; printing industry familiar EFI offers EFI PrintMe, and Xerox offers Xerox Extensible Interface Platform (EIP), “a software platform upon which developers can use standard Web-based tools to create server-based applications that can be configured for the MFP’s touchscreen user interface.”

The basic idea with cloud printing is that a person can print to the cloud (i.e., a virtual print file holding pen) and later the file is released to a specific remote printing device. Expect to see more cloud-printing options in the near future.

Julie Shaffer is Vice President, Digital Technologies at Printing Industries of America. She heads up the Digital Printing Council (DPC), as well as the Center for Digital Printing Excellence at Printing Industries headquarters in Sewickley, PA. In her position, Julie plays a lead role in developing programs and tools to help members grow their businesses with digital technologies.

Known for her graphic production expertise, Julie has a 20-plus year background in pre-media and print. She is often called upon for training, presentations and to provide on-site consulting throughout the industry on diverse range of topics, including PDF, color management, digital printing, social media and Web-to-print implementation. Julie is co-author of several books, including "The PDF Print Production Guide" (1st, 2nd and 3rd edition), the "Web-to-Print Primer" and the forthcoming "Field Guide to Social Media."

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  • Brian Rothschild

    Dear Julie,

    You are always so "On Point". Just posted a link yesterday called "Enough Already! Cloud Computing is here to stay! and have had nothing but great thread replies. Also, contacted for new project with Vincent Mallardi C.M.C., M.B.A. who is working on a model called P2M (Print to Mobil), please see linkedIn profile. SaaS was a great idea when it came out, but simply at the wrong time.

    Now, is the right time however, clouds, iClouds, cloud computing, it’s all here but the average consumer (not business) is always fearful of the new and thereby the demographics are showing that a very small percentage of smart devices, or possible prospects of SaaS or "Cloud" are actually taking advantage, whereas business is trying to shove it down the publics throat.

    This will not work. I can not sell a service that no-one understands so until the general public at large start to lose fear and join the digital age, SaaS, P2M, Cloud computing , Augmented Reality in print is all just a fast moving dynamic that is ever feeding into itself. I suggest that people read by the futurist Alvin Toffler in 1970.

    In the book, Toffler defines the term "future shock" as a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies. His shortest definition for the term is a personal perception of "too much change in too short a period of time".

    I find this to be the greatest challenge.