Cristi - blog

The Cloud is Not Great

Don't believe everything you hear!

The term "cloud" probably originates from one of the shapes commonly used in network diagrams. The little cloud symbol indicates a "nebulous" our data traverses, about which we know very little and have no control over. Marketers got a hold of the term and now it has become the new stupid word we use, like we had cyberspace. As if that wasn't enough, some people have even started believing in a personal cloud and are pasionately talking about something no one really understands but must be real anyway, called "the power of The Cloud". Silly humans...

Where is the RFC defining exactly what the cloud is?

Cloud computing is what one might call a victim of media advertising. In other words, the cloud is bullshit. I have grown an aversion for the term, because it has become bastardized to the point it has been devoid of meaning. And that's why I hate marketing. It’s purpose is to make you percieve something as if it were better than a competitor product, when in fact there is no real advantage. Microsoft’s latest fascination with the word "cloud" is in my opinion a telling example. We might as well call it "The Nebula" (try to trademark this, Dell). It’s vague, yet sounds amazing. Like some sort of great mystical power that Microsoft has somehow managed to harness for the good of humanity, but couldn't quite put into simple enough words for us mortals to understand.

What it actually is...

As St. Ignucius said in a report posted by The Guardian in 2008, "The interesting thing about cloud computing is that we've redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do". The term "cloud computing" is being used to refer to various different practices, which raise different issues.

However, I get the sense that most people use "Cloud" when talking about hosted services. But do you really know what that implies? The problem is you have no way of telling most of the time (if it's not your server). You just put your stuff online in the "cloud", thus entrusting Big Brother with it. It's a trap for the unwary.

I remember seeing this ad for an American manufacturer of networking equipment, "Behind every cloud is a datacenter". Just a common datacenter? Like the ones we've been running for all these years? Surely you jest! It's the cloud we're talking about! Must be the mysterious computing power from the sky...

The best way to avoid the confusion the term "cloud computing" spreads is not to use the term "cloud" in connection with computing. Describe the scenario you have in mind using specific words. Ultimately, the term may disappear and vendors will move on to hyping the next big thing.

Always research cloudy subjects before trusting services as software substitutes. You'll be better off if you don't relinquish control of your computing freedom in exchange for false promises, exaggerated claims and incredulous statements, because there is no substitute for direct control over your data.

Posted 09 July 2013.

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