CloudOn wants to beyond just offering Office on the iPad with new collaborative functionality
CloudOn is one of the more interesting options for working with Office documents on the iPad. The company offers a cloud-based version of the core Microsoft Office apps plus Adobe Reader. Unlike a virtual desktop solution, CloudOn provides just the applications and not a full Windows desktop. When it comes to creating and editing documents, CloudOn’s app relies on popular cloud storage options: Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive.
As a startup, CloudOn has seen strong growth since it launched its service earlier this year. The company announced a new round of funding this week ($16 million) and used the opportunity to tease users with details of its upcoming plans, most notably support for group editing and collaboration as well as expansion beyond the iPad and Android tablets.
The iPad's biggest role in business is changing how executives think about technology
One way to look at the consumerization of IT is as a democratization of workplace technology decisions. Executives and employees alike have become much more sophisticated users of technology. Through iPhones and iPads, they see how well-designed devices, platforms, and apps can create enjoyable and, more importantly, productive user experiences. As a result, they don’t tolerate clunky business systems and slow IT responses as much as they did a few years ago.
Many executives and pundits believe this has already changed the balance of power between the CIO/IT management and the CFO and other executives. A recent Gartner survey found that overall, CFOs are leading IT decision-making more than they were just two years ago. One could even argue that in addition to disrupting industries like music and mobile technology, Apple is subtly disrupting IT and business itself (with some help from other tech and business innovators).
There are plenty of iOS apps that deliver the core functions of Microsoft Office – Apple’s iWork, Quickoffice, Documents 2 Go, and Office2 being the most common selections. There are, however, gaps in what all these products deliver.
From a business and collaboration standpoint, the biggest missing features are integration with Microsoft’s Track Changes feature and the ability to access Sharepoint. While there hasn’t been any progress on the Track Changes front (OnLive Desktop and CloudOn are still the only real options), there are options for Sharepoint – the most recent being harmon.ie Mobile.
Multiple free accounts can mean unlimited cloud storage but with serious tradeoffs
Almost every cloud storage service on the Internet operates using a freemium model. Anyone who signs up gets a certain amount of storage for free. When someone uses up all their free storage, they can add more for a fee. Cloud providers usually layer on a few extra features for paid customers like the ability to stream audio files or the ability to restore deleted files or older versions of documents.
With so many free options, however, it can be tempting to use multiple services simultaneously. Add files to a free Dropbox account up till the free 2GB, then create an account with Box for the next 5GB (Box’s free limit), then create a SugarSync account and on and on.
This approach, known as cloud squatting, effectively nets users unlimited free storage so long as they’re willing to play an ongoing game of musical chairs with their data. iOS and other mobile apps that can access and edit files across different services make it surprisingly easy for users to become cloud squatters – and it’s surprisingly difficult for a business or IT department to prevent or deal with cloud squatting employees.
Quickoffice announced its new cloud service known as Connect at the end of last month. The service is designed to sync Microsoft Office documents between your iOS devices, Android devices, Macs, and PCs. It’s an extension to the Quickoffice apps for iOS and other mobile platforms that offer the ability to create, edit, and view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files on the go.
Connect by Quickoffice is now available from the App Store and it’s a very slick app and a great addition for any iOS user or mobile professional.
Could/developer partnerships fill the file management void in iOS
It seems that every week for the past few months, there’s been at least one or two announcements of app developers, cloud service providers, and mobile management vendors developing strategic partnerships to create or integrate their products into a single unified workflow.
Box’s OneCloud initiative, in which the storage provider teamed up with more than two dozen app developers to create seamless workflows for several different business and productivity tasks, is probably the biggest example of this trend. Others include Quickoffice launching its own cloud service as well as integrating with Accellion’s kitedrive, LogMeIn’s new Cubby service, and CloudOn’s virtualized version of Microsoft Office that integrates with Box and Dropbox for storage.
CloudOn updates its cloud-based Office suite with some killer features
Today CloudOn released the first major update to its cloud-based Microsoft Office solution. Like OnLive Desktop, which recently made changes to comply with Microsoft’s Windows licensing model, CloudOn delivers virtual copies of Windows versions the three core Office tools. Unlike OnLive, however, CloudOn doesn’t provide a virtual Windows desktop and the company doesn’t provide its own cloud storage for user documents.
Instead, CloudOn integrates with Box and Dropbox to provide document storage and sharing. The interface of the company’s iPad app provides a simple launcher and file browser. When one of the Office apps (or the newly added Adobe Reader app and File Viewer) is launched a virtual instance of that app is provided from the CloudOn servers.
The same company that brought top-shelf game titles to the Mac is soon planning to bring many of those same games to the iPad. Today, though, OnLive has announced an app that lets you view and use Windows 7 applications on your iPad. It’s free, and it’ll hit the App Store this Thursday.