Back in the days when Windows XP was exciting and new, I recall enthusing about ‘the cloud‘. More specifically, in those days, the Google suite of Docs, Spreadsheets, Calendar, bla bla bla, and the online ‘Google Apps for Domains‘, which I don’t think was yet answering to any name like ‘cloud‘. I was enthusing to the head of IT at a place which whirred and clunked along, as people used to, with its own locally situated slow servers running the Microsoft stuff that provided ‘Outlook‘ to each machine in the building.
My suggestion was a simple one. Dump off all the local storage and infrastructure and give everybody access to Google hosted (g)mail accounts, all using the organisation’s domain name. The cost saving would be phenomenal. He looked at me as if I was mad. Indeed, when ‘the internet‘ connection for his organisation went down (as it used to a lot in those days) he crowed about “how would anybody have been able to work in the cloud now. Ha ha ha.” He of course missed the point that all his super local infrastructure was also cut off from the world. His tens of thousands of Pounds of local infrastructure functioned solely to allow email to be exchanged within the organisation but not outside it. IT ‘professionals‘ have always been backward thinking.
So, here we are at the end of the life of Windows XP, and I don’t know anybody who doesn’t work, at least in part, with ‘the cloud‘. Indeed, there are so many ‘clouds‘ it can be confusing to know which to use and why. Microsoft all but forces Windows users to sign up to its ‘Sky Drive‘, and everybody’s heard of ‘Dropbox‘ and ‘Google Drive‘ and a dozen others.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I use ‘Dropbox‘ for personal photo sharing, especially from my mobiles, and ‘Google Drive‘ for larger stuff, both for personal and business purposes. But, I want to mark the demise of the lesser known ‘Ubuntu One‘.
Every ‘cloud‘ service operates by having a folder on a local PC, let’s use ‘Google Drive‘ as an example. Anything plopped into that ‘Google Drive‘ folder gets copied automagically into ‘the cloud‘ and onto all other PCs having the same ‘Google Drive‘ folder, synchronised to the same ‘account’. Where I’ve written ‘Google Drive‘ I could just have easily placed any or all of the other ‘cloud‘ services. The modus operandi remains the same.
‘Ubuntu One‘ was different. Ubuntu is a Linux operating system (ideal for breathing new life into old Windows laptops!), and the ‘Ubuntu One‘ cloud system worked seamlessly with Linux and Windows. With ‘Ubuntu One‘, there was no need to remember to plonk things into a specific dedicated folder. Instead, a PC user would carry on using the default folders they’d always used, like ‘My Documents‘ and so on. Ubuntu One would sync the ‘My Documents‘ from one computer onto all the others as well as store copies ‘in the cloud‘.
Now, it seemed to me that this was the simplest and easiest way to work with ‘the cloud‘ and no other company did it. Instead, for the less ‘aware’ PC user, having to find and then plonk things into their particular cloud’s folder, or open things from their cloud’s folder is not easy if you’re a little, well, confused. It made sense to do it the Ubuntu One way.
But, alas, Ubuntu One has gone. In order to concentrate on other aspects of their business, and, I would imagine, being unable to compete with the likes of Google Drive on price, Ubuntu One was committed to history this month. Yep, I’m a very happy Google Drive user, but I loved the little indie that was Ubuntu One.
Thanks for the years we had, Ubuntu One!