I’m in Orlando for TechEd IT Professional. With 10-plus years of TechEds under my belt, so much of this year’s show—the location included—will be routine for me: the blast of hot-humid air as I leave the icy air conditioned “comfort” of the hotel for the bus ride to the convention center; up-and-down escalators to the massive expo hall and registration area; the slick production of the keynote; and, sadly, that feeling of tendonitis returning to my arm as I lug my laptop down corridor after corridor. I’m also discovering other reasons I’m having déjà vu all over again.

Cloud computing is one of those reasons. While the name might be new, the concept is not. The basic idea is Internet software delivery. Can you say hosted services? Didn’t we go down this path about 8 years ago? Weren’t the industry leaders proclaiming then that all server software, such as Exchange, would be hosted over the Internet before long?

My initial response to the concept of moving all software processing to the cloud was resistance, as it was the last time we went through this exercise. After all, we have one big single point of failure, the Internet. But I’m slowly warming up to the idea. Times have changed. As many industry experts have noted, some of the most frequently used software is already delivered via the cloud. We have new generation of computer users who get their email and share their calendars through a web browser. With broadband becoming more pervasive, perhaps the idea of moving software to the cloud is not so farfetched. 

Microsoft’s Live Mesh initiative actually makes the Software as a Service (SaaS) concept more tangible for me. Live Mesh, currently in beta, is an operating environment that runs on the web and shows how  Microsoft might develop its’ Software Plus Services strategy. Karen Forster and Paul Thurrott will look at Live Mesh in more detail in the July issue of Windows IT Pro. And you can read Paul’s review of Live Mesh. Maybe this is the chance to truly have anywhere, anytime, any device connectivity (except perhaps on an airplane). Let’s say I’m on the road, as I am at TechEd. If I could go to a terminal anywhere and securely connect to all my software (email, calendar, word processing) and all my data, I wouldn’t have to lug this laptop all over Orlando.

We’ll explore the Cloud Computing concept in more detail this week in a roundtable discussion with industry experts such as Mark Minasi, Sean Deuby, Rhonda Layfield, and Guido Grillenmeier. Stay tuned to IT TV for highlights from that discussion and what Cloud Computing will mean for IT pros.