Four trends that will push adoption of Web apps and cloud computing

Four key trends will hasten the adoption of Web-based applications and cloud computing, says Rishi Chandra, product manager of Google Enterprise, the division of the search giant that makes the enterprise software Google Apps .

p>Here’s a look at those trends, as Chandra outlined them to attendees at at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston this morning.

1. Consumer Innovation Setting the Pace

Prior to the ubiquity of the Web in homes, the most innovative technologies could be found at work. With improved connectivity and less expensive hardware, however, most innovation occurs first in the consumer space, Chandra says.

Due to a need to please the end user, technologies have been forced to evolve to users’ needs; not the other way around. “The consumer world is more Darwinian than enterprise markets,” Chandra says. “The problem here is, it’s hard for the [business and IT] decision makers to understand the needs of the end-user. We have to show our value to consumers. People can go from Google search to Yahoo search in one click. We need to prove that we have the best value for that end-user.”

2. Rise of the Power Collaborator

The worker used to be very individually focused, and technology was designed to reflect that reality, Chandra says. It was also very clunky, and “designed by experts for experts,” says Chandra, who showed the Enteprise 2.0 crows a slide of an old-looking enterprise application with more than a dozen check boxes and pull-down menus. Cloud computing (applications accessed over the Web) will be powerful but easy to use, he says.

Cloud computing will allow for users to collaborate in real-time and must be agnostic towards operating systems and other core pieces of technology, he says. “When you share, you can’t have the expectation that we’re on the same platform,” Chandra says. “I don’t care what operating system they’re on. They should access this app on any platform or device.”

3. New Economics of Scale for IT

If you accept the fact that the majority of services and software will move to the cloud someday, then you need to prepare for massive scalability challenges to host all the data, he says. Chandra was quick to note that Google, which has been building data centers all over the world, has been preparing for this reality.

What are some current Google-scale challenges? Google hosts tens of millions of users on the consumer version of Gmail; seven million photos are uploaded to Picasa everyday; and 10 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. He noted that as vendors build more data centers, the cost will come down, creating more opportunities to build powerful applications.

“What if you had unlimited scalability?” Chandra asked the audience. “What projects would you be doing that you’re not doing today? The opportunity is limitless.”

4. Barriers to Adoption Are Falling

Barriers to adoption of cloud computing are falling, Chandra says, though challenges remain. Namely, the big hurdles include security, user experience, reliability, and offline mode, he says. With respect to security, Chandra takes a typical Google approach: He challenges the current state of enterprise security and contends that it’s pretty weak.

For instance, he notes that one out of 10 laptops get stolen, and from a corporate perspective, laptops store 60 percent of corporate data. If that information was in the cloud instead of on a laptop, the loss of the hardware would be trivial, he says.

“Our vice president [and president of Google Enteprise] Dave Girouard got his laptop stolen while he was at a San Francisco Giants game,” Chandra says. “He called our CIO, and said, my laptop is stolen, now should I get a Mac or a PC?” That story elicited chuckles from the audience.

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