Thursday, December 3, 2009

Noxious Cloud Computing

Ah, buzzwords. I generally dismiss them because they don’t really mean much and I should probably just dismiss Cloud Computing but I can’t. The term makes me angry. That might sound silly but I think it’s justified. Web 2.0, AJAX, and Long Tail are also buzzwords but they don’t make me angry. When people try to put those buzzwords into practice it’s really no big deal, they’re just subscribing to a fad and eventually it falls out of fashion. No big deal.



Cloud Computing is different. What is Cloud Computing? It’s where your processing and data is in The Cloud. What the crap is The Cloud? As a network professional I feel I’m qualified to answer this question simply, succinctly, and thoroughly. The Cloud is a symbol a network diagram. It represents The Internet. It looks like a cloud. It looks this way because the Internet is nebulous.



That’s all it is. If you’re using Cloud Computing your computing is happening out there, in that part of the diagram: the one representing The Internet. There’s one key thing that separates Cloud Computing from traditional Internet hosting and services. With traditional Internet hosting and services your pictures are on flickr or photobucket, your email is with yahoo or hotmail or gmail, and your shopping is through ebay or amazon. With those services your have more or less fixed resources and your stuff lives on some servers somewhere.



With Cloud Computing, where’s your stuff? Do you know? I hear people say, “Oh, my pictures exist in the cloud.” Well, where are they? They’re in the cloud. It seems to me that people think that in the cloud means their resources are everywhere and will be accessible from anywhere. When your stuff is in the cloud it apparently means it can never be inaccessible, or lost, or stolen.



The reality is that in the cloud means that you don’t know where your resources are. That’s not to say that you should, either. If your grandpa uses picassa for his pictures he doesn’t need to know where the files live or it’s preserved (although it’s to his benefit to be able to know how his data might be lost). Google probably doesn’t want your grandpa to know how the backend of picassa works because that might represent a security risk.



I’ll selectively borrow from Wikipedia what doesn’t challenge my rant:




In concept, it is a paradigm shift whereby details are abstracted from the users who no longer need knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure “in the cloud” that supports them.




What does that mean? It means when your data is in the cloud it somewhere on the Internet and you neither know nor care where. That’s not to say it’s somehow more accessible, more available, or more secure. It just means users don’t know. And not knowing is fine but before Cloud Computing your grandpa didn’t know where his pictures were and he knows no more or no less now that Cloud Computing is here.



I guess saying Cloud Computing sounds cooler and smarter than, “On the Internet, somewhere.” What it sounds like to me is that you don’t know but either are afraid to say you don’t know or don’t realize you don’t know. I think this Cloud is really a fart - it smells terrible and will hopefully disperse soon.

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