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Tarry Singh draws my attention to National Cloud Computing Day, which comes to the UK on Friday 12 December.

The creation of UK-based KashFlow, National Cloud Computing Day

“is being organised… to encourage UK small businesses to evaluate online applications and speed up the migration from traditional word processing, spreadsheet, accounting, email and contact management systems installed on computers to their web-based counterparts.”

KashFlow managing director Duane Jackson is quoted as saying,

“Throughout the world businesses are discovering web-based software and it’s important that UK small businesses don’t get left behind.  They are already enjoying the benefits of a wide range of online services which are virtually indistinguishable – and often superior – from there [sic] installed counterparts.

The Cloud Computing Day challenge is simple – for small businesses to exclusively use online software in their day to day business on December 12th. This is a fun challenge with a serious message.  And we hope National Cloud Computing Day will help to raise awareness of a more efficient, economic and flexible way of working.”

This is in large part, of course, an attempt by KashFlow to gain free publicity for themselves and their award winning online accounting software. As they’re not attempting to disingenuously disguise their involvement, I have no problem with that, as it may well attract some attention to the wider issues around moving applications and data to the Cloud. The Financial Times, for one, has a tradition of seeing how technology might change business on the ground, and the paper is clearly looking closely at the Cloud.

I do wonder, though, if the emphasis on ‘online applications’ is misguided? Looking at my own behaviour, the biggest shift has actually been to move my data to the Cloud rather than the UI through which I choose to interact with it most of the time.

A quick skim of the applications currently running on my machine shows that every single one of them is tightly enmeshed with the Cloud, and every single one of them has (more or less) a Web-based interface that I am consciously choosing not to use whilst sat at my desk watching snow fall across East Yorkshire.

NetNewsWire, Twhirl, Mail, ecto, iCal, Adium, Skype, OmniFocus. And Firefox of course, but that’s different. All are running locally on this Mac, but all are working with data that I can access at will from my iPhone, and all (except OmniFocus?) are also available to me by various means on any net-connected computer with a half-decent browser.

There are plenty of sound business reasons to move toward Cloud-based software, SaaS and the rest. For the end user, though, the biggest challenge must surely be demonstrating the value, security and flexibility of moving data to the Cloud. Leave the decision about whether they actually read their Gmail via or download it into Mail to the individual; they have reasons for their decision, and those reasons work for them.

Right, back to watching the snow. I look forward to seeing whether Duane’s initiative gets any traction next Friday.

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