Ask Not for Whom the Cloud Looms; It Looms for You

The latest answer, the latest of many, to the question of “earth, the universe, and everything” in computerdom seems to be cloud computing, in which users’ applications and data exist not on their local machines, but up there, somewhere, in the “cloud.”

(Aside: In the olden days, when I was a young ‘un, it was called “networking,” but “networking” is not a new, marketable term, so the marketeers disdain it.)

I am as skeptical of this as I was of doing grocery shopping via the internet.

I certainly have no objection to using remote servers for backup storage, nor for facilitating collaboration over great distances. Indeed, my participation in Geekazine is, for me, a form of “cloud computing.” Geekazine exists out there somewhere, I know not where (be assured, Jeffrey does), but it is as real to me as if the server were in the next room.

But you will not catch me storing my income tax returns or my other important personal information in the cloud. Nor will you catch me putting anything on the cloud that is not backed up locally on one of my own machines and, usually, also to removable media.

Here’s an example why. Read the fulll story here.

    A recent e-mail from Eastman Kodak Co. didn’t lead to a Kodak moment for Vanessa Daniele. It got her angry.

    On May 16, the company’s Kodak Gallery online photo service will delete her picture albums unless she spends at least $4.99 by then and every year thereafter on prints and other products.

    That’s the new rule for people whose photos take up less than 2 gigabytes of space on Kodak’s servers — enough for around 2,000 1-megabyte photos. People over that limit must spend at least $19.99 a year. And customers who signed up under the old rules won’t be given a pass.

Admittedly, this is an extreme example. It would be most un-Google-like for Google suddenly to charge for Gmail or Google Docs. Pulling a stunt like that would be completely counter to Google’s history, traditions, culture, and behavior. I just don’t see it happening.

Nevertheless, it is a real example. So my advice is to use the cloud, but do not trust the cloud, because, as my mother would say, “You just never know . . . .”

Update: According to MarketWatch, the clouds in the sky are unsettled:

    An effort at rallying large technology companies around a common set of principles for offering so-called “cloud computing” services has raised a considerable amount of skepticism.

    The “Open Cloud Manifesto” published Monday and touted by IBM Corp. attempts to propose rules for cloud computing, or providing applications and services through an Internet connection rather than by supplying packaged and installed software.

Read the full story here.

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