Monday, 28 December 2009

To Cloud, or not to Cloud? That is the Question.

To Cloud or not to Cloud?

For a lot of geeks, this is a question that is preying on their minds. I am one of those geeks.

I'm fairly well integrated into the Cloud already; my fate was cemented when I bought a Google Phone. "What? You mean I can access all my mail and contacts and stuff from my phone and if I change it on my phone it will change my Google Contacts too? And my calendar and everything? I'M IN!" There are obvious benefits to having your phone info synced with the Cloud, like, never EVER again having to spend an entire evening alone with a bottle of wine and a DVD, manually inputting every single one of your contacts on your new phone...But if we take another step further, beyond phone contacts, calendars, etc., we start looking at things like personal documents, photos, videos and (potentially) application settings like for Firefox.

There are already choices out there to use...Google Docs was one of the first I heard about, Ubuntu One is a new Ubuntu service that is now standard with the latest release, and only just today, Dropbox was featured on Dork Adore (one of my favourite geek-centric blogs).

So it's easy to get into Cloud computing if you're of a mind to, but I still can't help feeling a bit uneasy about the whole thing. I don't know if it's my general mistrust of large organisations (I still feel a little niggly that Google has all my personal details in a file, regardless of what their privacy policy is), or whether it's influence from old Libertarian friends or my ex-military parents. I'm just not sure whether I would feel comfortable leaving someone else in charge of my documents.

Of course, there are a few big advantages to holding more information in the Cloud. For instance, I'm willing to bet that Google has a much more regimented and regular backing-up process than I have! And given that you could put almost all of your files now into a Cloud folder, it makes it easier to run small, lightweight computers like netbooks, because the only files you'd have to keep actually ON your computer would be your system files.

For me, at the moment, I'm undecided. I suspect, with all things, when it becomes a practical necessity to share more of my files with other computers, I will probably give it a go. But for now, I'll give it a miss, and just stick to syncing my contacts and calendar.


  1. I think you're not alone in questioning whether the "cloud" is the answer to your computing needs. Google seems to be pushing the idea with a passion, but the truth is (evident by much of the coverage of Google's upcoming operating systm) that people like having files stored somewhere that doesn't rely on having a internet connection.

    You mention Google Apps, but seriosly how many people do you know using it? Has it really changed the way people work? My view is that Google are an "internet" company, everything they do relies on it, and with that comes a focus on using the internet to solve/do everything.... but I think users don't really want it, well not yet anyway.

    P.S. Great blog - love the Conky related posts!

  2. I think Cloud is where things are going to go, but not necessarily as far as people think.

    First off, Private Clouds (for Enterprises) is going to be the place where it booms. When a company can have their apps, files and full control of their data from one central location and let their numerous office locations, remote sales reps and telecommuters get to all of their data when and where they need, it will become a no-brainer.

    Google Apps is a good start, but their ulterior motives and shady privacy practices are going to hold it back. If a company that is open, transparent and builds a reputation of integrity offers an equivalent of Google Apps and like, I think they will help move the cloud forward for individual consumers.

    Can't wait to see how UbuntuOne fits in with all of this, but there is a great potential there.

  3. Uh-huh no, I don't think so, Drew. Speaking from experience of working within financial services, they are (rightly) fastidious to the extent of paranoia about the security of their data. Even VPN's are not generally permitted to gain access to 'core data' ... physical site location is considered as much a part of the access regime as the mechanism itself. Even the whiff of open access to some data in the media would have a detrimental impact on some companies. For now at least, the financial and services sector still want their data in physically secure data centres.
    And this is quite apart from the legalities of the matter ... e.g. UK consumer data is required by law to be held in data centres on UK soil. I'm not sure "somewhere over there" is acceptable.

    I think this is a "hearts and minds" battle as much as a technical one.