Cloud misconceptions

18 11 2011

Recently I have read a lot of comments on blogs regarding the cloud, many of which have been made by in house IT specialists or the general public. While it’s always good to read peoples comments and thoughts on a subject, what is concerning is the amount of “misinformation” many of the comments exhibit.


Cloud = Death of the PC?

It seems that many in the general public really do see the cloud as attempting to kill off their beloved PC, or a way in which cloud providers can steal your information. I am a little concerned as to where these ideas have come from. I can think of one source, and that is Google…

Google has been pushing their version of the cloud for a while, and their vision of “Chrome” notebooks that simply run a browser and nothing else. The whole concept that we can do everything in a browser really isn’t true, and it’s aimed at people who mainly go on the web and do nothing much more…The Google vision of the cloud is not one that brings anything new to the table, its not a vision that is to help consumers or businesses, no its a vision that drives people to continue to use their search, and therefore a tool to allow them to charge more to companies to advertise with them. Nothing more…

The cloud essentially should be seen as an extension of the infrastructure and technologies we have today. Not everything a consumer wants to do will be in the cloud, nor will all their data and content. Rather cloud services are there so that you can have better experiences across multiple devices, rather you can use back up services seamlessly and that for some software, you can use it as a service. This is the correct vision of the cloud for consumers.

Keeping in mind the amount of consumers who state their fears that the cloud is an attempt at killing off the PC, equally as many IT professionals seem to feel the same, if not worse. Many blog comments state they feel that cloud providers are trying to move everything to the cloud, that there is no need for servers in house, and that the model being proposed is that of the main frame days…Again, where has this come from?

The cloud for enterprise is nothing like the main frame model. If anything the cloud is an extension of client server, with applications being connected via the cloud to their content and data. It’s simply a different way of doing certain things, and not all things that businesses do (in terms of IT need / use) can be applied or work in the cloud. For many software providers the cloud will provide services which enrich the solutions they deliver, allowing them to provide additional features and functions. And for certain IT tasks such as backup and storage, sure you may leverage the cloud in a native fashion and remove costly in house servers and administration. But please remember, the cloud for enterprise is not about moving everything to the cloud…


Cloud definitions

It’s also worth noting that the Cloud still has different definitions, and probably always will have. Amazon cloud services are very different from those of Microsoft’s. For example Amazon sees a complete “Cloud” solution, where you use their infrastructure and move whatever you want (infrastructure wise) to the cloud. This is IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). Almost like an all or nothing approach to those functions you chose to move to the cloud. Microsoft on the other hand delivers a cloud platform as a service (PaaS). This essentially is like another server that you can connect to and leverage, deploy software on it, content, storage and leverage services from it, it just so happens to live in the cloud and not in-house. This means you can have lots of things running in the cloud with Microsoft Azure, complete solutions if you wish, but you can also have very small components of bigger solutions that may run in-house, such as certain web services hosted in the cloud, but leveraged only by your in-house solution. The PaaS option is far more flexible to business needs and software requirements, and it is not intended to be seen as a replacement to the PC, nor the enterprise IT department…


Cloud = good

Well it does. It enables software and devices to understand user and application state, it enables better connectivity between our devices and solutions, and it enables the headaches of scalability for certain business needs to be removed from in-house. But, and it’s a big but, the cloud should never be seen as a replacement to in-house IT, it should never be seen as a replacement to the PC, and it should never be seen as a tool in which the cloud providers steal your personal information. Security is paramount to the cloud providers, without it, they don’t have a service to provide…

The cloud is a great extension to the way in which we use IT today, not a replacement for it.

Google to face antitrust wrath?

21 07 2009

Not my usual type of post this, but I have been reading quite a bit on this subject and thought I would have to share…

Christine Varney is head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division in the US, and was an attorney who represented Netscape in the late 1990s in a case where she painted Bill Gates and Microsoft as an overeager bully. So why the title of “Google to face antitrust wrath” for this post?

Well back in June 2008, Christine spoke at a conference about online law and antitrust. She stated that the technology industry was coming under the sway of a dominant behemoth, one that had the potential to stifle innovation and squash its competitors. The last time such words were used, Microsoft found itself at the centre of an aggressive antitrust case. Varney continued stating that Microsoft was not the problem, “I think we are going to continually see a problem, potentially with Google” she said. Instead of dominating the desktop, Varney said “Google was starting to colonize the emerging cloud-computing industry, amassing enormous market power and potentially creating an ecosystem that customers would be powerless to escape”.

On May 11th, this year, Varney made it clear that her stance on the subject hadn’t changed, indicating that Google may well be in her sights, letting it be known that she plans to take a forceful stance on the countries antitrust laws. “In the past, the antitrust division was a leader in its enforcement efforts in technology industries, and I believe we will take this mantle again”.

For me, this is clear intent that Google will be at the centre of some antitrust investigations, and to be honest, I am not surprised. For some time, Microsoft has been seen as the “bad guy” in the IT world, facing constant investigations and rulings, most recently issues within the EU regarding shipping IE8 with Windows 7. While Microsoft has been seeing the inside of the court room, Google has escaped such aggressive antitrust investigations.

Google is an angel?

Well this is what Google wants you to think. For far too long now, people have been spun the tale of two guys (Larry Page and Segey Brin) founding the company, providing free services to all, so that they may enjoy the web and find just what they want on it. People love this idea of two guys showing the way in technology, it’s a bit David and Goliath with Microsoft often getting painted as Goliath…However, let’s remember this company is now a massive organisation, and Larry and Segey aren’t at the helm any longer. In the past their two favourite words when questioned about the company’s activities have been “Trust us”. For me, that just doesn’t cut it….

Advertisers have been worried about Google’s market share for some time, and in the past three years, have seen Google’s market share of advertising raise from 50% to a massive 75%. Google has already attracted antitrust review regarding its plans to acquire online ad firm DoubleClick. In addition Google is now under investigation regarding its book-scanning project and the Federal Trade Commission are looking into whether the Apple board seats held by Google CEO Eric Schmidt and board member Arthur Levinson violate federal antitrust law. On the latter point I do hope some action is taken. I personally feel that Google has exploited some of the ideas of Apple, and has for sure made a move into core Apple markets (Google Phone vs iPhone; Chrome Browser vs Safari browser; Apple Mac OS vs Google Chrome OS)

For me, looking at the Google machine from the outside, it does appear that Google wants to dominate everything we do on the web, and more importantly want us to move away from the desktop and use the web for actual computing and storage. This is the reason behind such projects as Google Docs, gmail, Chrome browser and of course, Google Chrome OS. Google know the more of their products we use, the more of our habits they can trace, and the more they can sell this information to advertisers, bumping up their revenue. I am always concerned with Google trying to track our habits online, and by using more and more of their software end users provide them with exactly what they want, more ways in tracking our habits and information.

Any Conclusion…

Well the only conclusions I have come to is that Google (like any business) wants to grow as large as it possibly can, and is no longer the angelic organisation it may have once been. Google are using their massive market share of the search engine marketplace to try and dominate the web and the way in which we interact with it. I have no doubt this is having effects on smaller companies and is stifling innovation. Some may argue that it promotes competition; however I just don’t see any competition in place. Giving away free software, becuase you can afford it, means that smaller organisations just cannot compete. If they cannot make money from their ideas, designs, innovation and plain old hard development work, then how can they compete?

To be honest, I am sure that Google rightfully will be at the centre of some antitrust investigations, the question is, how soon…