ITWorld reported today that HP is expanding its cloud computing presence. The company already offers businesses a solution that provide that hardware, software, and services to build their own private cloud tools within their own network through a consulting/service program Cloud Start.
HP will soon be unveiling a hosted cloud service for enterprise customers HP Enterprise Cloud Services-Compute. This service provides the same cloud setup services of the existing program, but HP will host any cloud computing data and software in its own data centers (one in the U.S. and another in Europe). This service will be big business for HP and will offer larger companies a way to offer cloud services to their employees (and potentially their customers), but I'm looking at what if could mean on a more personal level.
Cloud computing is a big trend in all business environments today (and will certainly play a major role for years to come). It's also becoming a bigger advantage for small businesses, non-profits, ad-hoc groups, and individual users. The ability to access data anywhere and to provide new levels of collaboration are the biggest benefits of cloud computing and they can impact every piece of technology that we use in our daily lives. They have also become a backbone for a various mobile devices as well as our home and office computers.
Google Docs and Dropbox may be the best examples when it comes to documents and files, but contact syncing features in GMail are equally powerful - not mention cloud-based syncing of calendars, notes, to-dos, and other pieces of data (Evernote may be the king of personal cloud services that can be used in almost any way).
What does that have to do with HP's cloud services? The potential that the company's cloud expertise and even its data centers offer for personal and small business cloud features. HP has clearly geared up with some serious cloud computing muscle. It's also about to unveil some major expansion of the technology it got when buying Palm: namely webOS.
It only stands to reason that HP will leverage its cloud computing expertise and capabilities for webOS users. With a platform designed to function across a range of device types (smartphones, tablets, netbooks, printers), it only makes sense for HP to offer a consistent cloud-based solution for integrating all those devices (not to mention PCs). I can't help but assume that this is what the "think beyond" teaser in HP's webOS even invitation refers to.
While I can assume HP is planning cloud services around webOS (an OS built for web and cloud services), I can't be sure what those services might entail. That said, I'm willing to speculate that they'll be pretty broad. In addition to the typical contact, calendar, notes syncing, I wouldn't be surprised to see HP add a Dropbox-like storage locker, web-based access, and cloud/Internet-based printing (after all, that was one reason HP gave for buying Palm in the first place). The company could go even further by offering its own online office solution and providing a rich data/document sharing mechanism.
In short, I could see the company planning something akin to a webOS-specific version of the majority of Google's cloud offerings but, perhaps, with deeper device integration and deeper integration between services.