There is a strong possibility that the way we now access and use data over the net was established decades ago by the US Defence Department.

The USDD initiated a precursor to cloud computing programme called CALS (computer aided logistic services or something similar) which was the result of some bright spark realising that each time a warship set out to sea it was carrying tons of documentation that might never be needed.

So not only did this redundant library of documents sit gathering dust but the weight of it slowed the ship down and ate up fuel.

Documentation & manuals

Documentation for everything from the toaster in the galley to the launch systems for nuclear missiles were removed and if any bit of kit curled up its little toes the relevant repair section of the manual was sent via electronic communications to the ship where the engineer could read it and repair the broken equipment.

But what has this to do with tradesmen, surely the cloud is the domain of computer buffs and office workers. Wrong!

Now if you run a repair company you never know when you will get an emergency call and Sod’s Law dictates that when this happens you probably won’t have the relevant manual to hand anyway. Thanks to cloud computing you can get around this in a number of ways.

Storage solutions

The first is to have an electronic version of all manuals stored on your secretary’s PC so if a call comes in she can sort through the filing and send you the material by email and is picked up by your laptop/netbook/smartphone.

Another way, if you don’t have a secretary or back office support, is more cloud computing and that is to store all e-copies of manuals on the likes of SugarSync and these can be accessed as and when needed. Of course you could carry all documentation on your laptop/netbook/smartphone but why clog up vital memory when you can let someone else take that pain.

Competitive edge

Apart from the convenience, just think of the competitive edge that cloud computing gives a tradesman if he can access vital documentation in minutes and respond to an emergency call faster than another tradesman who doesn’t have the documentation in the van and need to drive back to the office or depot to recover them.