Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cloud Computing


“The concept, is that vast computing resources will reside somewhere out there in the ether (rather than in your computer room) and we'll connect to them and use them as needed.”

Personally I am of the opinion that this is just another way to get more money from us. Cost of computers is constantly falling, software vendors are extending special offers to buy or upgrade their software. A niche has been seen, a possible multi billion pound (or dollar, if you prefer) niche. No matter what, if ‘cloud computing’ becomes mainstream, that is where the development money will go and licensed software will become obsolete and probably unusable eventually.

Regardless of the reasons vendors and or developers take this tack it takes away our choice. I just had a look at google docs for the first time and I can see me using it sometimes, when convenient and when the work is not critical. I would also point out that google docs have an offline option, which appears to allow google docs to be used offline. Presumably that means they are synchronised (I haven’t tried it yet) and if google or your internet connection goes down, you can still access and work on your docs.

I think in all probability it will be many years before ‘cloud computing’ becomes commonplace. There will probably be several years of licence based applications running alongside ‘cloud computing’ before we see the demise of licensing. But if ‘cloud computing’ becomes popular, then we certainly will see it pushed by the vendors and once there are few alternatives we may well see the end of cheap, maybe even home computing.

Another possible issue is who will supply these applications in the ‘cloud’? Almost certainly, apart from the current software vendors ISP’s will offer ‘cloud computing’ as part of its package. This could result in difficulty leaving an ISP (we all know how difficult it has and still can be to get a MAC number from your ISP) if they withhold your documents or make it difficult to access them. There are many ways such a system could be used to make document retrieval difficult.

Then there is the government. Living in the UK and seeing some of the draconian laws being introduced in the name of security, how long before they (or some future government with few or no scruples- perhaps a Hitler II -) would demand access to everybody’s documents- in the name of ‘security’, of course?

In 1943, IBM's Chairman, Thomas J. Watson, famously said that "the World will only maybe need five computers!" we repeat this and have a little giggle at his lack of foresight. He envisaged these five supercomputers serving the billions of terminals we would have in our homes. It seems his comment, however ridiculed it may be today, may not have been so far from the truth!


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