Thursday, November 25, 2010

Clouds - is that where you want your data?

Google’s Chrome OS Is Prepared for a Netbook -

Google is pushing the cloud concept further with its Google operating system. Essentially it will have the look and feel of the Chrome browser. A device that can access the Internet will be the traditional computer. Is this prudent?

"Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, like the electricity grid." Maybe a better definition is found at Techmixer: “Cloud computing refers to both the applications delivered as services over the Internet and the hardware and systems software in the datacenters that provide those services. [. . .] The datacenter hardware and software is what we will call a Cloud.” See some of the advantages in the Newsweek article: "Does it mean that computer software is becoming obsolete?"

But, there is something basically wrong with the cloud concept that Google and others are counting on to enable unlimited computing. Thus netbooks, and smaller android devices can have computing power and storage limited only by Internet connection speed. The need for large gigabyte storage devices and multiple gigahertz processors will not be purchasing reasons. All data will be stored offsite, outsourced if you will, and all computations performed there too.

If you use Google Chrome, Google Docs, Picasa or any of the Google applications - you are cloud computing. I store little of my data on my netbook nor do I find that I use much of the Office type of programs anymore My daily use is via the Internet and Google. Even this blog is a Google app.

But I have this fear - what if the cloud computing grid fails much like the failures with the electricity grid? Arguably with appropriate backup, a failure in the cloud computing infrastructure will not cause the lost of data, but it may cause loss of access to the data and ability to compute.

What if there is a catastrophic failure in the electricity grid? What privacy can one expect having all data stored in the clouds? Will the government  find the pickings just too easy to avoid? What if the government determines to shut down the Internet. How long will it be acceptable to wait on the system to become available after a failure? What is in place to prevent business terrorists or business thieves? What about terrorists in general?

And once you have transformed to cloud computing - will you be inundated with more advertising or will you find yourself paying fees to companies like Google?

After years of the computing industry shifting the responsibility to consumers for any loss - constantly telling us to back up our data - now wants us to trust them with our data. It sounds like data insurance will become a large industry.