Apple’s iCloud announcements last week were very focused on the consumer electronics industry, but Apple has the opportunity to create an offshoot for business customers.
The iPhone, and more recently the iPad, are becoming standard corporate issue within large companies. iCloud services will need to be adapted to meet rules and regulations that govern data.
Cloud computing is most commonly used to offload back-office applications from IT staff; e-mail and other non-proprietary data is hosted in public clouds such as Amazon Web Services or Windows Azure. In theory, that gives IT staff more time and flexibility to focus on services that make the business more competitive.
Exactly what information can be hosted into a public cloud may be regulated depending on what industry a business is in or where its operations are located. I wrote a feature about cloud compliance issues while I was a reporter with SD Times.
What does this mean for iCloud? If Apple wants to go after the corporate market, it will either need to build several regional data centers like Microsoft does for its enterprise customers, or package up iCloud into a private cloud offering that businesses can run themselves–maybe an all-in-one appliance. Apple won’t just be selling the hardware; it will be selling application infrastructure.
I wouldn’t expect Apple to go to market with an enterprise rendition of iCloud until consumer demand bubbles up into the enterprise. That is what drove iPhone adoption, so expect Apple to leverage its foothold. Cloud computing is central to Apple’s vision for connected, smart devices to displace the PC.
[Full disclosure: David works for ScaleOut Software, a company that develops middleware that is used for cloud computing.]