Are you confused by all the “Cloud” stuff out there? Wish you had an easy way to learn what cloud storage can do for you? Here’s a couple of ways you can do that:
Skydrive is part of Windows Live Essentials. Yes, you have to sign up using your Live ID — your Hotmail account if you have been out of the loop for a few years 🙂 — but you have 25GB of storage you can access “in the cloud”. You can even share a folder or a document with someone else.
HealthVault is a more purpose-built cloud, one for your medical records. I was really pleased to see that I could stop getting paper copies of the Explanation of Benefits from my insurance company. You probably know the documents I mean, the statements which say your doctor charged $195 for service code RHDFSKJFSY111-0-123A54 (a 10-minute office visit), but the negotiated rate was $45 and your copay was $25. I was even more pleased to see I could have those automatically shared to a HealthVault account.
Why is this cool? Because it lets me store my health-related information in one place — online — and not in a tornado of papers on my desk at home. There are even devices — scales, glucose meters and more — which can upload data directly to your HealthVault. If I change health insurance providers, my data is still there and I don’t need to go to my previous provider and beg for my records. If I want to share the information with a new provider, I can do that, too.
If you try these out, I think you will see how useful it is to have information stored “out there”, but protected so only you or the people you designate can see it. And that’s what’s also happening with enterprises which move from SharePoint or Exchange hosted in their data centers, to email and SharePoint hosted in the cloud: http://office365.microsoft.com/en-US/online-services.aspx