In “Calling All Cloud Skeptics“, ZDNet writer Phil Wainewright begs for an antagonist to his Cloud Computing hero/idol, and asks who, as an expert in the IT community, could possibly understand Cloud Computing and still think it is anything less than a splendid idea and flawless technology.
Richard Stallman would be the man for the job that comes to mind, but unfortunately you could probably never get him to show up to a Cloud Computing conference.
He has some compelling reasons to be wary of the “Cloud”, yet of course there are also counter-arguments from Phil’s camp, mostly attacking Richard’s character rather than refuting his arguments against Cloud Computing.
I’d just like to summarize that in my humble opinion Cloud Computing is going to come and go like many other trends in IT… and to expand on this belief, I think it is a natural progression closely related to Nova Spivak’s commonly repeated analogy of computing as a pendulum swinging back & forth.
Allow me to present an example of this theory in action:
First, the Quill & paper (de-centralized)…
then the Printing Press (centralized)…
next came Typewriters (de-centralized)…
and then steam-powered mass-printing presses for widespread Book/Newspaper distribution (centralized)…
Home/Office Printers (de-centralized)…
Ebooks downloaded and controlled from central servers (centralized)
Another example chronicling the major advances in the Computer industry itself:
First, the abacus (the first turing-complete machines), personal, easy to understand and use by most grade-school educated individuals… Next, larger & bulkier counting machines, complicated, required a technical team to operate and take care of…
then, personal handheld calculators…
but wait, MORE POWER… the mainframe computer powered thin terminals all over an organization (mostly universities, government departments and big businesses)…
then Moore’s law aggressively pushed more power directly into employees/citizens’ hands with the personal computing revolution… Hey, lets link up the personal computers with vaccuum tubes and create a larger connected “corporate mainframe” with more distributed architecture, ahhh that was lame lets build out individual server farms with more power than the vaccuum tubes instead, DARPA says we should make the corporate and academic mainframes talk to one another then each node increases the value of the network (but lets isolate each one to make sure the network is more resilient than a single node in the case of war)…
oh yeah, our employees/citizens still have those weak PC’s we sold ‘em lets put the power of this Internet thing we created in their hands and see what happens more bang for the buck (Web 1.0 – the next big personal computing revolution)…
Internet is too slow for their real-time content collaboration needs MORE POWERFUL SERVERS/ISP CLUSTERS (Web 2.0 – Moore’s Law *TEMPORARILY* overtaken by MetCalfe’s Law)…
CONSUMERS: We want this technology to work from anywhere in the world, using any device (Mobile computing revolution)…
INDUSTRY: Cloud Computing can make it so!!! (Semantics, price & simplicity will differentiate offerings)…
The end result:
Cloud Computing was a short-lived but nonetheless interesting dissertation; what’s the point in getting all worked up about it though, when my renewables-powered Mobile will in 10 years be more powerful than all of Google’s servers are today…
The end game:
Matrix-like embedded technology hooked up to human brain and wired together through a central mega-grid (maybe so, but personally, I hope not)…
Singularity (also hoping for this to be avoided but anyway… the point is there’s a clear trend and you can clearly watch the pendulum swing…)
All this to say Cloud Computing would be better off avoided IMHO; if not for the path it potentially leads us down, then at least for the vendor lock-in and naiive data handover that’s sure to ensue in many misguided cases. Personally, I never want all my eggs in a single basket, no matter how green you want to paint it and/or how shiny and feature-filled you want to make it… but I’ll humor Phil and at least go so far as saying that avoiding Cloud Computing altogether over the next decade will probably result in missing out on the lessons learned first-hand, the advances as well as the steps backward that are typical and unavoidable in every new computing age (or pendulum swing), and missing the valuable experience might leave one not quite as well prepared for the next stage (i.e. the next time the pendulum swings back away from the backend and crashing again towards the individual, in a de-centralized yet massively connected manner.)
In a perfect world we can avoid extending our human traits biotechnologically, yet still have mobile devices which contain the sum of human knowledge, updated in real-time via a self-renewing massively multi-user P2P information cycle … and best of all, NO MORE CLOUDS!
I’ll leave you with a few quotes:
“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”
(Ken Olson, President, Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977)
“640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
“The Internet? We are not interested in it”
“Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window.”
“When computers (people) are networked, their power multiplies geometrically. Not only can people share all that information inside their machines, but they can reach out and instantly tap the power of other machines (people), essentially making the entire network their computer.”
- Cloud Computing [Richard Burnett] (ecademy.com)
- Moving to the Cloud (vendio.com)
- Getting Your Head Into The Cloud Computing (pluralsight.com)
- Large-Scale Linked Data Processing: Cloud Computing to the Rescue? (webofdata.wordpress.com)
- Cloud Computing – can be evil (decisionstats.com)
- How one sports geek wants to save cable TV with data – Cloud Computing News (digitaltvnewssummary.wordpress.com)
- Small businesses take on cloud computing (bbc.co.uk)
BC$ = Behavior, Content, Money
The goal of the BC$ project is to raise awareness and make changes with respect to the three pillars of information freedom - Behavior (pursuit of interests and passions), Content (sharing/exchanging ideas in various formats), Money (fairness and accessibility) - bringing to light the fact that:
1. We regularly hand over our browser histories, search histories and daily online activities to companies that want our money, or, to benefit from our use of their services with lucrative ad deals or sales of personal information.
2. We create and/or consume interesting content on their services, but we aren't adequately rewarded for our creative efforts or loyalty.
3. We pay money to be connected online (and possibly also over mobile), yet we lose both time and money by allowing companies to market to us with unsolicited advertisements, irrelevant product offers and unfairly structured service pricing plans.