Cloud Computing

Anphicle May 23, 2010 0

Cloud computing is one of the most over-hyped ideas you can read about on the web. Mostly all literature about cloud computing is by service providers themselves so it is likely to be the best thing since sliced bread. But why should you bother with cloud computing? The only reason I can think of is back up purposes and where somebody uses more than one device in different locations. But most of us are content with just one device so who does cloud computing appeal to? There are 3 big reasons I don’t dig cloud computing and they are:

  • Privacy
  • Practicality
  • But, But Why?

Privacy

Nobody does anything for free. The internet has been around for far too long for us all to know that, so why would somebody provide hardware, software, storage, for your benefit without gain? Answer: they do get something out of it. Take Google’s Gmail, not something you would consider cloud computing but it is – your emails stored on their hardware. By using their service you allow them to snoop at your data and they get naturally written content which is great for artificial intelligence learning purposes. Translations tools, grammar correction etc can all enjoy this data. They also get user web browsing data for their search products (i.e. web links & keywords). That’s a small example picking on Google Gmail, but for other cloud services and reasons for them existing you only have to use your imagination. I wrote only recently about how Facebook uses your details to target advertising at you, is it really worth it?
Problem solver: use your own computer.

OK, email is an internet based feature and therefore you would expect it to be exposed to anybody, but why would I compute my personal documents – word processing, spreadsheets, finance records etc etc over the WWW and store it on somebody else’s hardware where I don’t know where it is, who can access it at their end and who can access it without me or my cloud service providers knowledge (i.e. hackers). In the early days of Facebook there used to be a master password that any Facebook employee could log in to any account. Why would I trust a corporation with my – CV, passwords, bank details, contacts and addresses, pictures, videos and so on? The trust a company can have is as low as its least trustworthy employee. And quite frankly I don’t trust anybody on the web.
Problem solver: use your own computer.

Practicality

Most cloud software providers go on the sales pitch of free software, but there are alternatives to paid software anyway, it’s just usually people don’t know about them or think because they are free they must be dodgy. Google Docs is the online competition for the traditionally dominating Microsoft Office, but there are plenty of free alternatives available, particularly open source. The most popular is Open Office. Pixlr is the cloud version of Photoshop, though there are plenty of free alternatives of varying levels of features for your own computer.
Problem solver: use your own computer.

Google are currently developing Chrome OS, an Operating System (O.S.) which is based online, where all the processing power, storage and software is done by cloud servers. You own a device that connects to the server which is basically a front end for user interaction. This may be a good idea in Silicon Valley and San Francisco where internet connectivity is lightning fast, but the reality is most of the world is still on basic connectivity. I know I’m not on a business connection but the best my line can achieve is 0.5MB/s. I can’t stand slow internet downloads at most times, trying to imagine what processing every bit would be like on a server hundreds of miles away is beyond comprehension. It is a selfish practice too. Estimates say about two thirds of internet traffic are torrent based downloads, corporations hate this as it consumes connection bandwidth, but cloud computing services think it is OK to process every bit and transfer it back and forth this way. Unbelievable.
Problem solver: use your own computer.

But, But Why?

Why indeed. The only positive examples of cloud computing are for storage and transferring between devices. Thinking about it though, this isn’t cloud computing. Going back to data security and the speed of the internet I would consider using a USB/flash drive rather than the internet for transferring large/private files. But Cloud Computing? I just don’t buy it.

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