Cloud Computing – OnLive and Google

My first post about OnLive in June was optimistic about the service, and this optimism hasn’t wavered.

To refresh your memory, OnLive is a cloud computing gaming service. Games are processed on the OnLive servers and the video is pumped to your computer in real time. Every time you move your mouse or press a key, that signal is sent through the internet, processed on their servers, and then the resulting action is streamed back to you.

If this sounds like a strain on your internet connection, you’d be right. When I first tried OnLive back in June, I had a connection between 16-20 Mbits/sec, pretty quick. I’ve since moved to a new place, and while I’m still with Comcast for internet, I downgraded my service. Peak times, I average around 1-2 Mb/sec, maxing at around 4 Mb/sec. It’s terrible. Suffice to say, I can’t really use OnLive anymore.

So why would I still be optimistic about a service I can’t even use? Well, because I believe that cloud computing is going to be the future.

Yesterday, Engadget wrote about an OnLive demo where Windows 7 was streamed to an iPad and a Galaxy Tab. They demonstrated that a processing intensive program, in this case the 3D modeling software Maya, could be run on a tablet. Amazing stuff.

On the other end of the cloud computing spectrum, Google revealed its Chrome OS laptop. The data for the Chrome OS laptop isn’t stored on the device itself, its streamed from Google’s servers. However, instead of video games, its the more mundane: documents, spreadsheets, presentations. But Chrome OS is built around the Chrome web browser. So you’ll have full access to the internet too.

On one end of the cloud computing spectrum, you have Google, aiming at the more productive side of computing. On the other sits OnLive, aiming its cloud at gamers. But at the same time, OnLive has shown that it can stream an entire operating system along with the processor heavy programs. Imagine what would happen if Chrome OS and OnLive had a baby…

I just hope that I can improve my internet connection before that happens.

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