Home > IT > Cloud computing may not be for the faint of heart just yet

Cloud computing may not be for the faint of heart just yet

That’s the conclusion that I couldn’t help jumping to after reading this piece:

http://www.twitlonger.com/show/bt2p2o

In short the guy writes about how he spent months painstakingly  migrating all his other email accounts to his one gmail account and uploading all his documents to his google docs account only to have his google account deleted (or suspended) by google.

It’s sort of like when you have all your info on this one laptop that you lug around with you everywhere you go and then you drop it and it breaks into tiny little pieces from which no information can be recovered only it’s probably more like having somebody grab your laptop from you and smash it to pieces as you stand there and watch helplessly.

Well, maybe  it’s not all that bade and who knows, google may eventually reactive the poor fella’s account and he’ll once again have access to all his stuff. However, what this story really calls attention to is the risks people are invited to take when they are encouraged to switch to cloud computing.  On the surface cloud computing looks like a very cool idea – software as a service, a new digital utility that allows you to rent digital space and applications, however at the end of the day what cloud computing boils down to is that you let someone else handle your (sensitive) data. Cloud is a very cool metaphor, but in actuality what it sort of conceals is that fact that your data that is in the ‘cloud’ is in actuality sitting on someone’s hard drive.

It may not really be that much of a problem from a purely technological viewpoint as in all probability those data will be backed-up and there will be some redundancy built into the system so that even if the actual server your data is stored on should go down, some other server will pick up the slack; in the worst case scenario loss of data will be minimal and 9 times out of 10 you probably won’t even notice anything. However, what do you do if your cloud computing provider decides you’ve violated some obscure terms of use (which most people hardly ever read anyway) and pulls the plug on your account. And what if it’s a major provider of cloud services like google with millions of users that can afford to ignore complaints from the likes of you for weeks on end or even to never get back to you at all? Yes, probably in most cases they will reactivate your account eventually but still what if it’s at a critical point that they shut down your account; suppose you’re finishing an important project and all of a sudden poof, you can’t access your data anymore and you write them an email and they tell you that you’ve violated their terms of use and that they’ll get back to you next week but your project is due tomorrow.

So what’s the lesson we can learn from this cautionary tale? – for the time being it would appear that the best policy is to store all your most important files locally and to only use the cloud for backups.

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