Lev Grossman on The Cloud
Lev Grossman has an article in Time this week (not available on Time.com) that pretty much hits it on the mark — at least in my book — with regards to The Cloud. I look kind of befuddled when people tell me we should do this or that on The Cloud or how their product is a Cloud solution.
Grossman lays into this in his opening paragraphs:
The best thing about cloud computing is that word: cloud. Telling consumers that their data is in the cloud is like telling a kid his dog has gone to doggie heaven. There is no doggie heaven, and your data isn’t in a cloud. It’s in a windowless, fortress-like data center somewhere in the rural U.S.
Cloud computing is just a buzzword companies use to describe what they’re doing when they move data and processing tasks you’re used to hosting on your personal computer onto their servers, which you can access via the Internet. It isn’t new; far from it. It’s at least as old as webmail services like Hotmail. It just didn’t have a cool name back then.
Of course, The Cloud has its merits and convenience (for consumer applications) is surely one of those merits as is scalability (for enterprises and businesses); however — as Grossman argues — one of the biggest pitfalls of The Cloud is the lack of control over you data. Grossman continues:
But in some ways, the cloud is a step backward. It harks back to computing’s primordial past, when everything was cloud computing — dumb terminals connected to central mainframes.
The thing is, I’m not sure I want my computer to be just a device. Cloud computing goes hand in hand with another trend: the netbookization and iPadization of the PC, with its transformation into a beautifully designed but lobotomized device that relies on an Internet umbilical cord to do most of its actual computing.
As for me, from a development perspective I’m not too caught up in The Cloud hype. For most purposes, unless you really know that you have a hit on your hands, you can host your applications much, much cheaper on shared hosting for about $10/mo. which is still probably the best way for a small business to get started. And when you need to scale, well, hopefully, you’ll have tons of investment capital at that point, too and you can just port your app to The Cloud.