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Mobile and Cloud, Naturally!

March 21, 2014 No Comments

Symbiosis |ˌsimbēˈōsis, -bī-| noun (pl. symbioses |-ˌsēz| ) Biology interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.

Ever since I was a child, I was puzzled and in awe of symbiotic relationships. I could not help but wonder how the short-billed plover bird seemed unafraid of entering the crocodile’s mouth, and how the crocodile could curb the temptation to make an easy meal of the plover. It was not until years later that I realized that it was the “mutual benefit” that made the relationship work.

I still don’t know how the knowledge of this mutually beneficial relationship is passed from generation to generation, especially with the lima bean-sized brain of the crocodile, and the plover being, well, a bird-brain. What I do know is that somewhere along the lines, the “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM) factor became much greater than the “Does It Threaten Me” (DITM) factor. In short, the benefits far outweighed the threat for both parties.

Nature is fascinating, but what’s equally fascinating is that we as humans consider ourselves advanced and in charge, yet, the laws of nature naturally (no pun intended) and routinely find their way into our lives. We constantly see events that typically happen in nature replicate themselves in our day-to-day lives, or at the very least heavily influence our interactions. Laws of nature seem to apply everywhere, even when it comes to the most man-made creation of them all: our technology.

Take the cloud for example. Cloud solutions have advanced rapidly in the past decade and have changed how we work, study, interact socially, shop, and more.  The cloud has been wildly successful, since by its own nature it reduces the need to purchase and maintain servers in our office or home. It untethers us, giving us the ability to work in the same environment anywhere we are, beyond our office desks, and it does all that while reducing our operation costs and increasing our efficiencies.

Similarly, with the explosion of smartphones, a device that was originally meant to only make voice calls has metamorphosed into a mini-computer, by our side at all times.  This brilliant invention reminds us of our appointments; knows all of our friends’ phone numbers, emails, and social handles; inspires and enables our creativity; and more. It can calculate the tip at a restaurant, show us the location of the Uber car that is picking us up, and has broadened our communication avenues from voice, to email, to text, to tweets, to posts, to snapchats and beyond. The smartphone, and the apps on it, are so personalized to our liking that its many uses have become as individualized as any one of us.

So, what does all this have to do with the plover and the crocodile? It’s that symbiotic relationship again, this time in technology, facilitating an explosion of mobile and cloud apps. Cloud apps have full-blown servers powering them. They can process massive amount of information, connect to other services with high-speed bandwidth, and store petabytes of data.  The cloud is truly the technological powerhouse of our time.   The smartphone, on the other hand, has a small processing engine, insubstantial storage, and its connectivity is limited to a cellular network or a nearby Wi-Fi router.  But, what the smartphone has going for though is nothing to sneeze at: availability and convenience. It’s always by your side.

At one time, mobile app developers felt compelled to compete with the cloud and would say “don’t bother with anything else, just download my app on your phone”. Yet today, there are more and more developers realizing that there is a mutual relationship with the cloud, with a giant WIIFM for their taking.

In this market, many mobile apps are quickly developed with font-end user interfaces that take the user’s information, pass it on to their cloud counterpart, and display the results. What the mobile apps get out of this is more “processing power”, albeit remote, and what the cloud gets out of it is ‘round the clock user engagement.  This couldn’t be a more symbiotic relationship.   So, instead of competing, each is contributing to the growth of the other.

The symbiotic relationship does not end there. It creates an ecosystem that helps everyone. Now, there are tools for mobile developers to have a cloud presence, even if all they do is procure server power. Similarly, there are tools and libraries for cloud developers to rapidly move their front-end user interface to smartphones. The cost of app development and maintenance has been greatly reduced, and nowadays developers don’t have to maintain separate software development trees for each device that they would like to deploy on. Thanks to HTML5, JavaScript, Jquery, and a plethora of libraries – some even free and open source – there is a single code-base for all the devices the solution is to be deployed on.

This “build here, deploy anywhere” capability strongly reduces the developers’ costs and bugs in software, and greatly increases the market size. With the cloud, the O/S became irrelevant, and now, with this symbiotic relationship, we are well on our way to the nature of the device becoming irrelevant as well.


Siamak Farah is founder and CEO of InfoStreet and widely regarded as the pioneer of Cloud-based Apps.  InfoStreet introduced its first business software via the Cloud in 1995, with its flagship productivity application, StreetSmart.  Mr. Farah’s years of experience as a software developer affords him unique hands-on technical knowledge, while his work at NeXT Computer, side-by-side industry visionaries like Steve Jobs, gives him the marketing and management insight that has helped propel InfoStreet’s growth year-over-year.  Siamak is a frequent speaker at conferences that focus on the Internet and SaaS such as ISPCON, INBOX, SoftLetter and more.

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