Over the last six years, the company I worked for, has been at the forefront of private cloud software solutions, using SaaS (Software as a Service) to public and private companies.
When you do something every day on such a large scale, (we provide over 14 application servers for over 70 customers, as well as maintaining customers own virtual environments on their networks) you take things for granted on what a great smooth solution cloud and virtualisation actually is.
But this weekend a small mundane “problem” went to demonstrate the practicality of the two solutions, so much so that looking at a single tree, made it more obvious to appreciate and understand the forest in a way, let me explain ….
The other half’s birthday, and she decided to spend it over at my home, although Louise has a Windows netbook, a perfect portable computing solution. She’s loathe to carrying it about should it be lost or damaged when travelling. But, at the weekend she’d have to be on line to do some research, add to her notes and a few other chores.
Not a problem I have several machines, but it transpired that Louise’s set up although similar to mine is not exactly the same, and being slightly OCD. I wasn’t wanting to add her applications or files to clutter up my machines, or for that matter create an additional account on the same machine I use for business work (customer confidentiality and security!)
Virtually no Effort
Believe it or not, my understanding of virtual systems was actually home grown through Windows 7 XP Mode. But with Windows 8.1 (and 10) the virtual solution has become more elegant, with the inclusion of HyperV.
Learning by experimenting made it much easier for the official Microsoft certification I had to take, and to be honest a lot more fun, as the process of virtualisation is a breeze once you’re familiar with the process.
I have created several virtual templates for work and private purposes, as I’m currently testing Windows 8.1 and the new Windows 10 for work compatibility, along with the impressive Office 2016, so I had a spare template to hand.
The MicroSoft account
The real appreciation of the Microsoft account is shown when you use it to log into another different system. One of the things it does, is transpose your settings to the target machine. Logging in as my partner the system went way for a moment or two then presented a desktop, with the most common apps being set/configured for her.
Mail was available, the browser had her favourites set, most impressive, sadly the Office icons has the down arrow icon. The problem was that Louise, uses Office 2013, which wasn’t available on the virtual. But Office 2016 was, so clicking on the Word icon, simply downloaded the app. As its possible to switch accounts within Office her account was available and transferred over her settings.
One Drive to rule them all
Cloud storage such as drop box, BT Cloud are generally used by me as spare pockets. If I need to have something quickly where I can get to it, it’s a dead handy solution.
One drive’s integration into Windows again shows how such a simple idea, can have a butterfly effect and leave you impressed with how easy computing has become. Logging in the machine as my partner connected the one drive settings for her account, so all her documents, pictures and rather annoying her music (hey we all have different tastes) we’re available to her. No carrying about a USB stick, or having to retype part of an already started document.
Presto, Louise’s netbook was virtually sat in front of her, on my own machine. Whatever work she did at my home, once saved on one drive would be stored safely on cloud, and be available for her when she got home to her original machine.
And more importantly none of her data would be saved in my folders (even accidently)
Always impress the audience
The above scenario is small fry to what I do work wise for customer base ranging in the thousands. But my partner was pleased to say the least, that she could work anywhere, without the “where do I find… “ or “Can I download this … “ questions being asked.
The “So if my machine blew up” question and realisation was put aside, by seeing the magic in front of her own eyes. Proving that cloud isn’t just for business it’s a practical and easily viable solution for one and all thanks to Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 (the solution works on both).
Putting things in perspective.
If this had been on a machine with Windows 7 you could have done a similar configuration, but there would be far more messing around with downloading the software, configuring security, shortcuts etc etc. Without one drive no chance at all at getting at your data on a different machine.
Microsoft’s one account invisibly does the magic, allowing your account to be transplanted onto other machines with ease.
Don’t get me wrong industrial cloud for businesses can be more far complex VPN connections, security etc. But the basics aren’t too far different, seeing the process working dispels a lot of myth and magic over the use of cloud, and it’s a process that can secure and maintain agile working on any scale, for individuals, small businesses, and large enterprises quite easily.