I was just watching the introduction of Office 365 today in which they also promoted Microsoft's cloud base storage solution, Skydrive, and took a moment to reflect on a growing trend. Cloud based management of content; centralized and ubiquitous. One copy, in the cloud, available anywhere (well, with an internet connection) on any device.

On further perusal of Skydrive (Part of the Windows Live portal) I thought about my own attitudes towards cloud based computing. Ultimately, I believe, it will come down to a couple of things. Price, and secondly, although I don't think many people have given it a proportionate amount of thought; security. (This will be especially hard for Microsoft considering their Hotmail accounts are forever getting hacked; how comfortable do I feel about entrusting them with my personal data.)

There is a certain level of naivety amongst a large populous on the internet about this technology. A faith that corporations can be entrusted with, protect our content, and uphold our privacy.

However; it is subtly being introduced into our culture, like it or not. I've noticed that with anything I purchase via. the iTunes Music Store (ITMS) I now have the choice to store it to my iCloud. Contacts from my phone, my email, all potentially being uploaded to a cloud. I wonder how many people are aware of exactly how much content about them is already being pushed to the cloud. I was surprised to find images I'd uploaded to Windows Live Space in 2005 are now part of my SkyDrive. Big technology power houses like Microsoft, Apple and Google are aligning themselves, to channel their market shares into using their cloud based storage solutions. This will become even more prevalent with internet TV. Apple's iTV, Google TV, and Microsoft with it's own content via. X-Box TV. To a lesser degree Amazon and it's S3 for Kindle. I wouldn't be surprised if Facebook announces something!

As more and more information is uploaded, with consent or unbeknownst, these "hives" of data could prove very attractive targets for hackers and, laughably not too dissimilar, marketers.

Secondly, although with somewhat more consideration, will be price. Most cloud services, from home grown solutions like MiMedia to technical power-houses like Apple, Google and Microsoft, offer an initial quota with more available on subscription; for example:

Platform Free Cost there-after
iCloud (Apple) 5Gb 20Gb/$40 p.year
SkyDrive (Microsoft) 7Gb 20Gb/$6 p.year
Google Drive 5Gb 25Gb/$25.98 p.year
MiMedia 7Gb 100Gb/$49 p.year

Will cloud storage go the way of the browser? Providers bundling their solution with their products? Microsoft and Internet Explorer/SkyDrive, Apple and Safari/iCloud, Google Android/Chromium and Chrome/Google Drive. Will users eventually tire, and seek out independent, transparent competition?

One thing I think is clear, like it or not Cloud based storage and computing is edging it's way into our culture. Social platforms (Facebook, Instragram, Twitter), iCloud, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive. Sooner or later it will be second nature. The prospects for cloud computing; better collaboration, content sharing, seem positive. No longer a need to worry about having access to a file, but how long will it take people and corporations to have confidence in allowing sensitive information into the cloud.

To round out this post. SkyDrive, live most other Live Portal products lacks the luster of it's competitors, but with Steven Sinofsky heading up the Windows/Windows Live divisions, his passion and the refreshing simplification of the UI in Windows 8/Metro I have confidence that will change.