Cloud computing, if you forgive the pun, is a rather nebulous concept; difficult to explain to the uninitiated, but in reality, disarmingly simple. What is unquestionably true though is that there is not the same excitement about it among consumers as there is in the technology industry itself.
Thus the media reception for Lenovo Cloud at the recent CES in Las Vegas was muted, perhaps due to some understandable cloud fatigue on the part of technology reporters more inclined to write about the latest whiz bang hardware like the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga.
The apparent uniformity of cloud offerings, which are mostly focused on storage, delivering content and sharing within a private or hybrid network, is also a factor explaining the relative indifference.
The truth is, as some journalists grasped, Lenovo Cloud, already launched in China, is a more ambitious platform than the market has seen so far.
Firstly, access to the Lenovo Cloud is open to internet capable devices running any major operating system. This may on the face of it seem too good to be true, but given the Cloud is in essence web based, the closed solution alternative seems shortsighted.
In particular Lenovo Cloud is designed with the social aspect of the relationship between families, friends and co-workers in mind, making the same cloud infrastructure relevant to both consumer and business use. A Cloud solution that depends on download of proprietary software from one service provider or hardware manufacturer is simply not fit for purpose in that regard, given any group is likely to have some dissident members.
Rather than excluding users that don’t yet drink the Lenovo Kool-Aid the Lenovo Cloud is intended to offer an enhanced experience to existing Lenovo customers, and allow a user to access the Lenovo Cloud from other devices when interacting with family members, friends or colleagues.
The quid pro quo for Lenovo is that many non-Lenovo customers will get their first exposure to the brand in a positive and practical way, through their existing web browser, rather than through application downloads and installations.
The second pillar of the Lenovo Cloud is that the latest Lenovo hardware is optimized for the cloud through Lenovo’s Secure Cloud Access and Cloud Ready Client developed in conjunction with Intel. This is no spurious marketing talk, but is commercially deployed technology that improves the cloud experience and security for the end user by leveraging capabilities of the device being used to access the cloud.
Although these technologies are currently only available to enterprise customers, they will be key building blocks of the Lenovo Cloud consumer offering to be launched later in 2012. Leveraging on the Lenovo’s experience in delivering enterprise Cloud solutions, every product Lenovo delivers going forward will be optimized for Lenovo Cloud.
The advent of Cloud computing was erroneously interpreted by some as the beginning of the end for hardware manufacturers. One thing that was demonstrated at CES by the continued fascination with device innovation is that the opposite is true. As consumers embrace a multiplicity of devices the opportunities for Lenovo and its rivals are growing, not shrinking, even if competition is correspondingly fierce. Lenovo Cloud will have a key role to this expansion.