Gartner has recenty predicted that by 2020, a corporate “no-cloud” policy will be as rare as a “no-internet” policy is today. CIOs will increasingly leverage a multitude of cloud computing providers across the entire IT stack to enable a huge variety of use cases and meet the requirements of their business unit peers. Indeed, the tides are shifting toward a “cloud-first” or even “cloud-only” policy... 

Marc Wilczek

Cloud Apps of the Week

Cloud Apps of the Week

You’ve successfully rung in 2012, but if you’re in the United States — particularly on the East Coast — a nasty cold spell has put an abrupt end to the celebration. Thankfully, three new applications should warm your spirits once more, with their clever grasp on how the cloud can prove useful in 2012.

Oftentimes, cloud applications seem more concerned with demonstrating impressive “cloud-ness” instead of creating an ingenious spin on a specific niche.

A new woodworking app, called “dustCut” from Online Softworx, dodges this trend. It keeps the emphasis on the lumber without feeling technologically labored, and it proves how well the cloud can adapt to a very particular sector: carpenters and cabinetmakers. dustCut determines the least amount of money and labor required to manufacture a set of rectangular panelings. Deceptively simple, this standard woodcutting practice has vexed the IT world and business scholars for years, verifying dustCut’s helpfulness for those who work with wood. Currently free, Online Softworx offers unlimited use of the dustCut’s premium features for a fair, pay-as-you-go fee.

Applications focused on photo editing already abound. Such apps that also integrate cloud computing are substantially rarer, paving the way for Picnik to dominate. Founded in September of 2007, Picnik merges a photo editing app’s expectations of remarkable tools and effects with the cloud’s ease of data storage and access. Users can employ Picnik’s array of editing equipment for free; they can also import their favorite pictures from a host of popular photo storage sites, including Facebook, Picasa, and Flickr, as well as from their own computers or laptops. To entice diehard shutterbugs, Picnik offers several premium features at the cost of $25 annually.

We can only hope that no new social media platform emerges in 2012. Juggling accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, and onwards challenged many of us — but not everyone — last year. Those that navigated every facet of their social network experiences with aplomb likely had HootSuite in their corner. This application synchronizes your activity on each of your networks with a single click.

Multiple network management is not inventing the wheel, however, a fact not overlooked by HootSuite’s staff, who has beefed up the app’s offerings with an armada of additional features: custom analytics and team collaboration for businesses and new support for smartphones (Blackberry, Android, iPhone, etc.) are some of the standouts. $6 a month to access all of HootSuite’s features also makes it one of the best values in the cloud app community.

By Jeff Norman

Jeff Norman

Jeff Norman is a freelance writer currently based in New York City. He's moved into writing about cloud computing from substantial work in culture and the arts. He earned his undergraduate degree in English at Stanford and has studied at Oxford and Cambridge.