Yesterday over on the Translational Technologies blog, I wrote a little about how the library public computing model as we know it will change if we start relying more heavily on cloud-based technologies. I managed library public computers for over six years before moving into the commons role, so this remains a topic near and dear to me. In the commons environment, how the library public computers are managed remains a critical service issue for us.
With this new model, basically the overkill days would be over--we would no longer use individual desktops that are far too expensive and robust for the simple web browsing and typing function they serve. (Keep in mind that these are library public computers, not lab computers which can easily offer hundreds of instruction-related applications--those are a different animal entirely.) For those of us who have been around for awhile, essentially our public computers would be like thin clients/dumb terminals: the operating system, applications, and storage are centralized. So yes, everything old is new again.
Michael Stephens offers a nice summary of what cloud technologies might mean for libraries in his 10 Technology Trends for 2009. If you haven't seen that post yet, make sure to take a look at it at least for trends two and three: the changing role of IT and the value of the commons.