The Agenda had their somewhat-usual technology suspects on talking about the Microsoft-Yahoo merger, with a majority of the show devoted to the idea of the "compute cloud" future for computing. It's quite impressive that they took this fairly technical topic on, and they did a good job of covering it from various angles.
The Debate: The Coming Cloud (switch to the Mark Evans tab for the other discussion) - video is linked from these pages, just click on "Watch video" there
also available as iTunes audio and video - I'm npt seeing it in iTunes yet though
Overall I liked the show, but I would have liked to have seen a cloud computing user, rather than just a panel of pundits. Show me someone who has moved their enterprise over to Amazon EC2/S3 or other cloud services. (For example, Internet Archive has been experimenting with this... and I see I'm the top hit for this information: "Science Library Pad: Internet Archive 20th Century Search". Also SmugMug photos uses Amazon S3 storage.)
I think the future splits into multiple models of computer use. Gamers, for near-term, need local graphics engines and local storage (holding the multi-gigabyte virtual environments they use). The intensive computer users like me probably still have their whole elaborate local network and local storage and local computing... well, basically entire personal data centre. We're probably the only ones left with a lot of non-cloud data and computing.
The digital dividers (old people, poor people, the technically unsavvy) will have very simple devices, something very akin to thin clients - probably in many different form factors - built in to televisions, set-top boxes, things like OLPCs and Eee PCs, "intelligent LCD displays". The highly mobile will have quite sophisticated but completely mobile devices. All of the data for both groups lives in the cloud.
This being said, there is a very, very long history predicting the demise of the PC and its replacement with set-tops and thin clients, and it has yet to materialize. People use a bunch of devices (cell, camera, PDA, laptop) AND their home computers, not instead of their computers.
SIDEBAR: Jesse Hirsh had quite the slag on for the Preventers of Information Services in IT Departments.
First he says home users can't be trusted with personal computers, and then he says work users must be trusted with unlimited use of Internet applications.
It is true that some of the Dr. No aspect of IT is arbitrary, but some of it is either out of their control (layers of regulations imposed from on high), and some of it is related to user support. IT is about user productivity. Computer secure, applications running smoothly = happy IT. If this could be guaranteed through the magic of trusted cloud computing, that would be fine. But the reality is, users download a bunch of cr*p and access a bunch of cr*p websites, and then IT has to come in and try to clean it up. That's why IT tries to lockdown. Lockdown is about being able to guarantee a stable computer, network, and sustainable support experience.
If you want to see what happens in an uncontrolled environment, just let a bunch of consultants into your organisation and let them "manage themselves" and see how well that works...
an outside consultant had installed LimeWire, a popular program used to swap music for free, on a laptop computer that was being used to work with data for the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission.
As a result, information — including names, addresses, dates of birth and medical and work histories — related to 153 individuals was exposed
SIDEBAR 2: A minor quibble with terminology used during the show, Amazon's S3 is cloud storage only, their compute cloud service is EC2. END SIDEBAR