As we now start to use cloud-based software applications and data storage services to fulfil our computing needs, the ability to access our information from anywhere with a web connection has some potentially useful implications for travellers, if used with care and caution.
Using password protected cloud-based document storing websites is a great way of keeping a record of your itinerary and aircraft boarding passes. Contacts and telephone numbers are also easily stored in the cloud, as is a fully interactive calendar so you can track your journey with dated deadlines that can even be driven to sync up with your smartphone.
But there has to be a sensible limit set when using these kinds of online technologies and you should stop short of posting scanned images of your passport and credit cards online. If you lose these items then you’re not going to get far without making a personal visit to an embassy or consulate, or indeed a bank — so there’s not much point in risking your security by posting up electronic copies of this data online.
Think about how the cloud’s social collaboration tools can also help your business. Even if you have promised yourself a total “non-work time off”, making an occasional note on Twitter can inform your contacts that you are offline for a while. You might also like to use cloud-based image sharing websites to upload your holiday pictures too; share links with your work colleagues and they’ll know exactly whether or not to send you that latest spread sheet to look over, or not as the case may be.
One tablet, twice a day
If you do plan to do a measured degree of work while on vacation, then you may find that all you now need is a tablet PC (possibly with an optional keyboard) in order to stay in touch. Word processing, number crunching spread sheets and even presentations can all be hosted virtually in the cloud depending on the hosting service used by your company, so there’s really no excuse now for not checking in with the office if you need to.
The beauty of the cloud model is that whatever you do to any of the data that you edit online, the changes with be saved for any other user with permissions or access to also view and then edit further if needed.
The cloud works both ways too of course, if your office wants to keep a live reporting dashboard in the cloud to tell you how orders, sales or any other business metric are doing, then they can do so. As long as there is web access, this kind of service can be set to run 24/7 – and when there is no connectivity, intelligent use of software that will later synchronise is also possible.
Don’t forget how valuable the cloud will be once you get to your destination either. As well as online maps and weather, cloud-based travel discussion forums often host the best advice posted by other travellers who have been to the place you are visiting before you.
What the cloud really is
Remember always, the cloud computing model is all about putting massive back end computing power in the hands of users who may be using scaled back smaller form factor machines such as tablets and smartphones. This means that if you want to pull up a cloud translation application on your device that will give you the processing power to convert English to local language used in your location, then you can do it.
Finally of course, it’s not all about work if you are on vacation now is it? So cloud based collaborative games from Scrabble to Space Invaders are an obvious and welcome distraction for those of us trying to use our machines for something a little less cerebral from time to time.
So use the cloud on the go, but use it safely and remember that this is still computing, so malicious dangers do exist. In other words, let your hair down, but don’t let your guard down.