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We all know the important role that cloud computing plays in our lives. Whether a business is destroyed by fire or natural disaster, if its files are stored in the cloud, then business can go on as usual; and many Internet service providers include security along with backup and recovery in their service offerings, so business leaders can rest assured that their mission-critical data is reasonably protected from hackers as well. Consumers have already embraced the cloud, streaming movies and television shows on Hulu and Netflix, downloading e-books from Amazon, etc. But does that mean that the cloud will soon become the be all and end all of our existence? Gartner seems to think so.

Gartner research vice-president Steven Kleynhans argued that our current era is not the “post-PC” era that many have named it. Instead, he contends that the cloud will, eventually, unify all the devices that consumers use, including PCs. That means if business leaders want to attract new customers while simultaneously holding on to existing ones, they will have to embrace the cloud.

“When we first started talking about the cloud and the technological benefits we would be reaping from the explosive growth of that medium, who knew that it would be the consumer market taking the lead, leaving business enterprises in the dust when it comes to leveraging the cloud,” said Luis Alvarez, founder of Internet service company Alvarez Technology Group. “I am amazed by the way that consumer technology has embraced hosted solutions, from something as simple as Facebook to the complexity of entertainment on demand as offered by Apple TV or Hulu.”  Within the MSP realm – hosted solutions have extended to Live Outsourced Help Desk services – geared specifically to help with these consumer technologies finding their way into business environments.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, mainly because people tend to resist it. So, the changes that business leaders have to make to incorporate cloud computing into their business strategies will not happen right away. Nor should they. Such drastic changes in business operations should happen gradually over time. But if small-business owners in particular are committed to the success of their businesses, then they will start making those changes sooner rather than later. This is where Internet service providers can prove their worth to their clients.

“If we are going to be the technology advisors our business clients depend on us to be, then we need to figure out how to leverage the cloud aggressively on their behalf, but do it in a secure and safe manner. If you haven’t figured out the benefits of cloud computing and how to fold those benefits into the products and services you are offering your clients, you need to do it now or find yourself out of the game in a few short years,” said Alvarez.

Maybe saying that the PC will be completely replaced by the cloud is an exaggeration. But it’s no exaggeration to say that the role the cloud plays in our personal and professional lives will continue increase year after year. In one respect, perhaps Gartner is right:  by 2014, the cloud will be the “glue that holds all of our devices together.”