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Doctorow On What Cloud Computing Is Really For

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the no-silver-lining-for-you dept.

The Internet 348

Diabolus Advocatus alerts us to an article Cory Doctorow has up on guardian.co.uk, addressing what cloud computing really means for the average consumer: "The tech press is full of people who want to tell you how completely awesome life is going to be when everything moves to 'the cloud' — that is, when all your important storage, processing and other needs are handled by vast, professionally managed data-centers. Here's something you won't see mentioned, though: the main attraction of the cloud to investors and entrepreneurs is the idea of making money from you, on a recurring, perpetual basis, for something you currently get for a flat rate or for free without having to give up the money or privacy that cloud companies hope to leverage into fortunes."

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348 comments

I'm not sure I understand (4, Insightful)

jasonmicron (807603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311843)

I've seen "Cloud Computing" around as a buzzword but I never really cared to investigate what it really was.

I'm assuming it is essentially paying a data center to host my data from my home system? Why in the hell would I even WANT to do that?

Or did I completely miss the bus? Something I missed?

Re:I'm not sure I understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29311907)

Congratulations, you are a self-enlightened being, and have spared yourself endless prattle from the likes of Doctorow.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (4, Informative)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311923)

It's the latest take on thin-client to server connectivity. Why buy a $1500 computer when you can get 100x more power from a $100 thin client and $20 a month. (or what ever)

The main difference this time is a web browser typically becomes your thin client and the server is actually a massively parallel cluster of servers. Every time you use Google you are using the cloud.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311935)

I'm assuming it is essentially paying a data center to host my data from my home system?

Yes, it is, and I don't understand why anyone (except the few occasions Doctorow points out in TFA) would want it, either.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (4, Insightful)

MathFox (686808) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311945)

Or did I completely miss the bus? Something I missed?

You missed the lock in model of being forced to work with the applications that the cloud provider supports.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (5, Insightful)

Insanity Defense (1232008) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312211)

Or did I completely miss the bus? Something I missed? You missed the lock in model of being forced to work with the applications that the cloud provider supports.

Or did I completely miss the bus? Something I missed?

You missed the lock in model of being forced to work with the applications that the cloud provider supports.

Also the bit where your data is locked into whatever file formats the cloud provider has and you will have difficulty maintaining your own back ups and migrating to a different provider if the current one is inadequate or fails.

Imagine the Outer Limits Control Voice telling you how they control your data and how you use it.

There is nothing wrong with your computer.

Do not attempt to install software. We are controlling what you may use and do.

We will control the file formats.

We will control the data.

We control all that you may do with your computer and your data.

Experience the awe and majesty of paying us for the use of your own data in ways that we strictly control and limit.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (0, Redundant)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312265)

This is.... the Outer Cloud Limits.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312417)

This is.... the Outer Cloud Limits.

You are... making a lame copycat joke. Go ride someone else's coattails, you unoriginal bastard.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (1)

space_jake (687452) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311951)

The theory is that if it is in the cloud, they handle the hardware, backup, processing, and security. All you have is a connection to your data/software.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (2, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312423)

The theory is that if it is in the cloud, they handle the hardware, backup, processing, and security. All you have is a connection to your data/software.

It's not your software. It's their software.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (4, Informative)

ForAllTheFish (1191163) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312011)

Cloud computing is just a little step above web site hosting. Instead of some online space accessible through HTTP, they give you a little more - a virtual machine with an external IP, for example. You get charged for the convenience of not having to: buy hardware, set up a firewall, set up an internet connection, obtain space, obtain electricity. Sometimes it is scalable so you can run exactly as many virtual machines as you need for a particular task, and it's great if you temporarily want some powerful, flexible web hosting.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (4, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312101)

"The Cloud" isn't just about hosting data. Its about hosting everything, your data, your applications, your medical records, who you communicate with, what you say, when you say it, where you say it, what you spend money on, what you do with it, what color underwear you are wearing, everything.

Google mail, google docs, myspace, facebook, amazon ec2 (a service that allows you define an OS image that can be dynamically deployed on any number of VMs or even physical systems, its actually quite useful if you need a highly variable number of servers running at any given time) are all examples of cloud computing.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (1)

jasonmicron (807603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312245)

Yea, no, I'm not doing that. I'd rather keep my computer and not run a thin client and "trust" that the company isn't monitoring what I'm using "their" server cluster for.

The exception I have to that rule is Google docs.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (0, Offtopic)

mypalmike (454265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312515)

I'd rather keep my computer and not run a thin client and "trust" that the company isn't monitoring what I'm using "their" server cluster for.

The exception I have to that rule is Google docs.

[rim shot]

Re:I'm not sure I understand (3, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312627)

Yea, no, I'm not doing that. I'd rather keep my computer and not run a thin client and "trust" that the company isn't monitoring what I'm using "their" server cluster for. The exception I have to that rule is Google docs.

Agreed. Sorry, but when I read that the first thing that occurred to me was "all of this because the average person thinks Windows is too hard, or otherwise refuses to get a clue." What concerns me is that buzzword-ridden ideas like cloud computing will probably appeal to the non-technical masses (addicts to convenience that they are), to the point that the rest of us may be forced to partially or wholly accept them. I really don't care to give up even a small fraction of my privacy merely because Joe Sixpack couldn't be bothered to read a book or two. There's no justice in it.

This reminds me of the more asinine software EULAs which not only state the standard fact that you don't really own anything despite having paid for it, but also state that the vendor has no liability no matter what happens, not even when the software fails to perform as advertised (I think they call it "suitability for purpose" and expressly disclaim it). If the cloud computing vendors decide to implement a TOS like that, then your data is effectively held hostage and you have no recourse if something happens to it. What would be their real incentive not to do things that way? An informed, technically literate public which fully understands all of these issues? Yeah, right.

Like any and all proposals to do for you what you can easily do for yourself while charging you for the privilege, this has "bad idea" written all over it. As though all of the buzzwords didn't tip you off...

Re:I'm not sure I understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312453)

So, ahh, what color are you wearing? oooo I like that color...

Re:I'm not sure I understand (4, Informative)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312105)

I'm assuming it is essentially paying a data center to host my data from my home system? Why in the hell would I even WANT to do that?

Because then it's trivially simple for you (more importantly, for people who aren't at all technologically inclined) to get at it from anywhere.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312113)

Why would you 'WANT to do that' ? Cos it maybe cheaper ? More secure ? More convenient ? universal access ?

You could have your own domain/email address etc - and still use gmail or yahoo whatever... same thing with applications and data on the cloud. The concept of 'rental' goods - whether they are zipcars, wet vacuums or even apartments - is based on a identical model. No huge upfront payment, but instead much smaller payments forever.

Companies have been doing this for some time - except names are different. Oracle/SAP/Msft/netsuite have host a company's ERP/CRM applications so that the client does not need to hire a fullfledged IT staff to look after the servers/software etc.

This is no different from Gmail's Photos (except we pay indirectly by clicking on advertisements)... it is your data, their servers...

Re:I'm not sure I understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312207)

the reason you are posting anonymously is you are a shill.

It's not cheaper, it's not more secure, and access is far from universal.

using gmail's photos is not the same idea, as that would just be a server app. Cloud is hosting *YOUR* apps somewhere else, and is a horrible horrible idea. It's like virtualization plus DRM.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (3, Informative)

omeomi (675045) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312193)

I've seen "Cloud Computing" around as a buzzword but I never really cared to investigate what it really was.

I'm assuming it is essentially paying a data center to host my data from my home system? Why in the hell would I even WANT to do that?

Or did I completely miss the bus? Something I missed?

You're probably already doing it. Do you use Gmail or do you have a single server somewhere? Ever use Google Docs for collaborative authoring of documents? Ever use an online backup service (that probably uses Amazon S3 in the background)? Ever use one of the iPhone apps that broke when S3 went down a year or so ago?

probably already using it?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312335)

Very amusing. You say "probably already using it" and list a bunch of things, all but one (gmail) being relatively obscure, and all of them being useless. But those values judgments aside, seriously, look at your list. You list those things and then have the balls to tell someone they probably already use it? Take a poll some time, mention those things to people, and you're going to get a lot of blank looks. In order words, the accurate reply is, "you're probably not already using it, unless you got suckered into gmail."

Re:I'm not sure I understand (5, Interesting)

ivan_w (1115485) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312407)

Do I use gmail ? certainly not ! Ewww !

And yes.. I do have a single server somewhere I use to handle my e-mail.. and my DNS.. (only thing is I have to hire the service of a registrar to write stuff in the ICANN db.. but I can live with that)

Do I use Google Docs ? You've got to be kidding right ?

Do I use collaborative solutions to author documents.. sure.. e-mails, mailing lists (which I can eventually host by myself should it become necessary) and a couple tools I host on the aforementioned server
Online backup service ? YUCK ! I have a few machines here and there and cross backup (ok.. so it IS Online Backup.. but I *know* were my stuff is located).

And I don't even have (or want) an iPhone !

So ! there !

(well... you weren't actually asking ME the question were you ?)

--Ivan

Re:I'm not sure I understand (3, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312195)

It's something you don't need to care about, unless you're hosting a service that needs to scale. Then "The Cloud" is an unspecified bunch of computers out there, and your application is spread across them in such a way that if some of them break, things are redistributed across the rest.

This is what Google, Amazon etc. use to provide their search app, their shop, and so on.

The big, newish, thing, is that now you don't need to be as big as Amazon or Google to host your app on a cloud platform, since they'll sell you space on theirs.

As a consumer, you needn't care how the web apps you use are hosted. Just be happy that they're there and they don't slow down just because a million other people have signed up.

As the guy running the site, though, it's huge. If you build an app right, on one of these cloud platforms, you can start very cheap indeed, only paying for what you need, and scale instantly (or even automatically) as demand increases.

You're an online shop selling Christmas goods? Host it on a cloud, rein it right back to a low capacity service ten months a year, then crank it up to hundreds of servers in November and December, and back again in January.

Hope this explains it.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312509)

It's something you don't need to care about

That is the very definition of the cloud. The origin of the word cloud computing is the cloud symbol, which represents an indescript network in a diagram: It means "don't worry about this, focus on the other parts of the diagram". Not having to worry about the scale, financing or the inner workings of the server infrastructure is the value of cloud computing. The promise is that cloud computing will make scaling up easier, but that is a lie. Your application will still have to be written with scale in mind. The cloud will not magically transform your gridlocked system into a sleek parallel application. The actual benefit is very similar to that of regular web hosting: Let the professionals handle security, hardware maintenance, networking, etc. so that you can focus on the application. The latter will still be your job.

(BTW, this concept keeps coming up. Sun used to call it "the network is the computer". And when it does come up, it always brings the people out of the woodwork who want to go client-server again. Well, we don't want the mainframe back, thank you very much. IMHO, cloud computing as a technology is interesting, but cloud computing as a business paradigm is a step back.)

Re:I'm not sure I understand (-1, Flamebait)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312199)

I'm more interested in why ANYONE pays attention to anything Doctorow has to say. Why is he relevant to anything outside his trivial little website? Why is so much stock put into the opinion of this guy? Particularly when he's stating the obvious like in this particular gem.

New fart overlords.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312587)

I am with you, but you just don't question certain things on the net, man.

Apple, Cory Doctorow, David Pogue are some of those. Even if they far, internet will go crazy how sweet smelling they are. Add Gizmodo to it for good effect.

In fact, they all keep on smelling each other's farts and they claim their own 'awesomeness'.

It's an echo chamber there, where the sounds of these farts are amplified over and over again. Slashdot, though not as bad, has their own contribution in the echo, for sure.

I? I just just drop some snarky remarks on such articles, while posting as AC. Any more attention to these farters and fart-sniffers is too much.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (2, Informative)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312205)

The cloud is actually an ambiguous term that describes the use of computing resources that are not directly controlled by the user.

Many current resources we use are cloud based, but only recently has the term been thrown about so freely. G-mail, google docs, and the internet are all cloud based systems that you might know. Although your stuff may end up hosted in datacenter, it might be hosted by several companies and several datacenters that you will never interact with. These are customer based cloud systems, but businesses are getting involved with the idea now. Really it seems to me that for a business it is outsourcing. For a consumer it is more of a feature as it is nowhere near economical to run your own servers to provide the same services. The idea of 'the cloud' is merely a term for what has been going on for ages: using computing resources that others control but you have access to.

The new application of 'the cloud' for consumers is to move ALL of your stuff online so you are just a dumb terminal that can display the 'clouds' services.

The new application of 'the cloud' for business is outsourcing large chunks of the IT department to companies that specialize in IT. This is supposed to cut costs.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (3, Informative)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312225)

Well "cloud computing" is a bit of a buzzword, but the idea is having big distributed computing available as a service on the Internet. I believe the term comes from Visio diagrams where the Internet is depicted as a mysterious cloud, as if to say "And something happens here, we'll call that the internet." It's sort of like the "step 3: ????" that comes right before "step 4: Profit!" Something happens, we're not sure what, but it gets the job done. Let's call that the cloud.

Why this is helpful is you get services that scale very easily and cleanly, and often you only pay for what you use. Amazon's S3 is a good example. With a dedicated host with so-many gigbytes of storage, you pay for that storage whether you use it or not because it represents actual hard drive space that your hosting service has provisioned for you to use. If you run out of space, you'll have to go through some upgrade process. With Amazon S3, you pay for the number of gigabytes you use. If you're starting your business and you only need 50 GB of online space right now, you can do that. If you need to scale up to 5 TB, no need to really change anything Amazon will keep giving you storage and you'll pay for whatever you use.

Now the reason you might want to use this for your own home data is pretty simple: so it'd be accessible wherever you are. Sure, you could set up a home server, but that means you have to run a server at home. You have to know how to set that up and secure it, and keep it running. You have to worry about losing power, or what happens when your house catches fire, and whatever else.

Now maybe it appeals to you and maybe it doesn't, but certainly it has its uses. From TFA:

That's how I use Amazon's S3 cloud storage: not as an unreliable and slow hard drive, but as a store for encrypted backups of my critical files, which are written to S3 using the JungleDisk tool. This is cheaper and better than anything I could do for myself by way of offsite secure backup, but I'm not going to be working off S3 any time soon.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312525)

networked storage is not cloud computing. That's just networked storage. Distributed computing is not cloud computing. It's just distributed computing.

see why cloud computing is an issue?

Re:I'm not sure I understand (2, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312263)

It's a renaming of the word "internet" so that tech writers can have a new buzzword now that "Web 2.0" and "blogs" have gone stale. Do you use internet mail such as Gmail? Do you play with an open source project hosted on Sourceforge? Apparently, using services in the same old client-server paradigm we always have is now "cloud computing," even though such a phrase implies parallel processing, multiple servers, and redundant storage.

Apparently, I was "cloud computing" in the 90s when I was using Hotmail.

Re:I'm not sure I understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312485)

I've seen "Cloud Computing" around as a buzzword but I never really cared to investigate what it really was.

I'm assuming it is essentially paying a data center to host my data from my home system? Why in the hell would I even WANT to do that?

Or did I completely miss the bus? Something I missed?

It's in the cloud [alonetone.com]
It's in the cloud [alonetone.com]
MotherBuzzword [alonetone.com]
It's in the cloud.... [alonetone.com]

evil corporations (-1, Troll)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311851)

how dare they try to provide a service for people to use and actually charge for it. Perhaps the government should provide 'Universal Cloud Service' to everyone for free. (except of course for the taxes they are charged for it to hide the actual cost)

Re:evil corporations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29311887)

keep slurping the dicks of the owner class - maybe they'll make you rich someday too!

isn't that...? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29311921)

You mean the Health Care Bill?

Re:evil corporations (1, Insightful)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311963)

Apparently you hate the idea of universal health care... but do you have to try to bring it up in every conversation? This has nothing to do with govt/market; it is about private companies that used to sell you a computer to do and save stuff now want you to rent a computer (for lack of better analogy) to do and store stuff.

While this might be nice to some who have no intention on maintaining a computer and care not for privacy, many people would not like these services (and some of the rates are outrageous... some not so bad). How did your bring the government in this convo? That makes me think you haven't really put any thought into your position on healthcare.

Re:evil corporations (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312111)

Sorry I have it in my signature. I'll change it just to make you happy and wont bring up Universal health care in every comment from now on.

Re:evil corporations (1)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312349)

You can keep it in your sig... that's the place for inflammatory statements here on /.. But your post was what I was talking about... as well as the other few that responded. But I do like the new sig!

Re:evil corporations (2, Funny)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312355)

but do you have to try to bring it up in every conversation?

At least he finally shut up about not having a TV. Count your blessings, dude.

Re:evil corporations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312367)

I guess you're a universal computer supporter? Free computers on every desk. I guess every issue has two sides.

Re:evil corporations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29311973)

Charging for services isn't the problem. Charging for bullshit services that we already have, and don't pay for, is the problem. No one is against corporations making money, but I, and apparently Doctorow, call bullshit when these greedy fucks try to charge for stuff that is currently free.

Its the same with these horse-ass streaming game services like OnLive and Gakai. They're purely DRM, they offer no convenience to existing PC gamers; in fact, they subtract convenience and choice.

Come up with an actual new service that is useful and not fluff and people will be happy to pay for it.

Re:evil corporations (1)

Ascagnel (826800) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312593)

I completely disagree with you on your point about OnLive and Gakai being useless. For existing PC gamers, yes, they are entirely useless. But existing PC gamers aren't the target audience of those services. Instead, those services are designed for those who either (a) can't afford or (b) aren't interested in maintaining hardware.

It speaks volumes that their demos so far centered around putting their tech in cable boxes (something usually made as cheaply as possible) or as client software for thin & light laptops (I think the exact demo unit was a MacBook Air). The devices are far outside of the usual "gaming hardware" group.

Also, its not so much DRM on an item you own as a monthly service. Slashdot, in general, needs to realize when things aren't necessarily DRM. You enter into the agreement knowing that you're paying for a limited time use of their system, which they maintain, and are limited to the titles they offer. You enter the agreement knowing that you haven't bought the game and therefore aren't allowed the usual rights that come with owning a product. Such services can exist without DRM as we know it (software or hardware copy protection) because the actual software is running remotely and they serve a stream -- and if you don't pay, they just simply kill the stream. Its roughly equivalent to your local power station killing your service if you don't pay your electricity bill.

Re:evil corporations (2, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312003)

You didn't RTFA, did you?

Perhaps the government should provide 'Universal Cloud Service' to everyone for free.

There's a guy here named "badanalogyguy". I think you have him beat. Nice try getting your offtopic and illogical political view somehow incorporated into the topic, though.

Re:evil corporations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312427)

Off topic, yes. But illogical? If this were an actual Health Care Bill post, he would be spot on. At least give him some credit for being correct about the off topic subject.

Re:evil corporations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312031)

Re: your sig; UPS and FedEx aren't doing that great right now. I know a bunch of people who work in IT in one of the above and they all had to take 20% pay cuts recently because the company is tanking.

But, go private sector!

Re:evil corporations (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312103)

There are lots of ways to spend money, and lots of ways to point out that certain ways to spend money are not cost effective. I didn't read anywhere in TFA however, where it was suggested that the government provide cloud service free to everyone. I don't know what made you make that leap, but it wasn't anything related to the article's content.

What was pointed out was that it makes sense in certain situations, usually highly intense processing, storage, or bandwidth related circumstances and the occasional time when people might want to collaborate on a document (I would note however that for most people, emailing the document back and forth is perfectly adequate). For most people, it makes more sense to buy a cheap computer because first and foremost, it is cheaper in the long run, faster, more private, and not subject to connectivity issues.

Re:evil corporations (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312185)

"For most people, it makes more sense to buy a cheap computer because first and foremost, it is cheaper in the long run, faster, more private, and not subject to connectivity issues."

Is it though? I have a feeling that that "most people" is shrinking to maybe "half of the people" and will soon be "a few people."

Re:evil corporations (5, Informative)

internewt (640704) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312163)

how dare they try to provide a service for people to use and actually charge for it. Perhaps the government should provide 'Universal Cloud Service' to everyone for free. (except of course for the taxes they are charged for it to hide the actual cost)

They are welcome to provide these services if they want to, this is just an article to explain to those who will listen why cloud computing is pushed so hard. It is a warning to not become dependant on "the cloud" because you and I probably don't know what it'll become, but it is likely that investors are flocking to "the cloud" in the hopes that they can grab control of anything, and then profit from that control. That probably isn't good for the users of the cloud.

I have pretty much stopped using proprietary software since I noticed how inevitably my interests will conflict with the interests of the proprietary software maker. I will look for open stuff first, and only if there isn't an alternative will I use proprietary stuff, like Google Earth and some games.

Cloud computing is just proprietary computing by another name. It can still be useful, but the control lies with the cloud owner rather than the user.

Re:evil corporations (0, Flamebait)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312521)

Perhaps the government should provide 'Universal Cloud Service' to everyone for free.

Cloud service... for some reason that makes me think of death panels.

What are they talking about? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311885)

on a recurring, perpetual basis, for something you currently get for a flat rate or for free without having to give up the money or privacy that cloud companies hope to leverage into fortunes.

If I go "Legit" - I don't have any money or privacy on the internet. It all goes to some music/movie/filesharing company or another.

If I "Pirate" - This stuff is all free, with the basic risks still assumed, and moving to the Cloud will not really change that.

So, I ask, what am I getting for Free or a flate rate that cloud companies are going to make me pay through the nose for?

Re:What are they talking about? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311981)

So, I ask, what am I getting for Free or a flate rate that cloud companies are going to make me pay through the nose for?

Everything on your hard disk. Everything on your bookshelves. You don't pay every time you take down a book and read it, slot a tape or DVD into the player, play a song in your music library, fire up Halo or Okami. These things are flat rate... you pay for them once and use them as many times as you want as long as you want.

Re:What are they talking about? (2, Informative)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312015)

Well you get a flat rate for that disk and CPU sitting next to your desk that will be worth nothing in 3 years.

Or you can spend $15-20 a month and get a constantly refreshed and updated/upgraded system every time you turn it on.

Re:What are they talking about? (1, Interesting)

BESTouff (531293) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312127)

Well you get a flat rate for that disk and CPU sitting next to your desk that will be worth nothing in 3 years.

Or you can spend $15-20 a month and get a constantly refreshed and updated/upgraded system every time you turn it on.

Do you mean the client terminal will be part of the deal and be rented too ?
Otherwise it won't be updated/upgraded each time I turn it on.

Re:What are they talking about? (1)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312377)

You are assuming we will reach a 'pure' cloud system where every operation is done in the cloud. I don't think this will ever be the case. Small cheap chips are going to keep a good chunk of processing on the devices. The fact is, you are going to have to buy new 'terminals' on a regular basis. Networks have an inherent latency that will never be fixed without some huge breakthrough and that alone is going to drive the 'terminals' to be upgraded and tweaked to be better and faster.

I think we will end up with a hybrid system but I think mostly storage will end up on the cloud, with computing split between the terminals and the cloud. But as cheaper and cheaper storage and CPU's are produced I am still willing to bet that there will be large classes of devices that will have modest storage and computing power even if we evolve to 'the age of the cloud'.

Re:What are they talking about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312041)

the point being that when you come off the internet you can look at all your PRIVATE files in PRIVATE without having to communicate though the internet to the cloud.

Re:What are they talking about? (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312179)

So, I ask, what am I getting for Free or a flate rate that cloud companies are going to make me pay through the nose for?

Office suites. You can get perfectly functional word processors/spreadsheets free (open office, abiword, and probably dozens of others I'm not aware of) or for money (MS Word, and probably dozens of others I'm not aware of). Without local competition, how long do you think remote options will remain free?

Re:What are they talking about? (2, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312243)

allow me to provide an analogy, it's like this:

your computer becomes a kindle, and all the apps on it, all of your own data, all of your storage, all of your privacy becomes the ebooks. That means they can be revoked, you don't own them, and you pay more than you used to for the same stuff people get for free/elsewhere. Oh and if their cloud (drm) servers go down, you have no access. Whoops.

What's your convenience? Hey, you got a kindle! whee!

Heads in the clouds (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311893)

The first online services charged you for every email you sent or received. The next generation kicked their asses by offering email flat-rate.

It's finally happening with cell phone service, too. It always galled me that I had a flat rate on a land line but had to pay minutes on a cell phone. Especially annoying when someone with a landline who likes to gab calls you.

Now I'm on Boost Mobile, and its pricing is even better than a land line. Free minutes, free internet, free voice mail, free text messaging, fifty bucks a month flat rate.

Good article, I coundn't find anything to argue with in it. I never did understand why the concept of "cloud computing" was attractive to anyone. I wish someone would explain it to me.

Re:Heads in the clouds (3, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312013)

Good article, I coundn't find anything to argue with in it. I never did understand why the concept of "cloud computing" was attractive to anyone. I wish someone would explain it to me.

No upfront investment. Example: Amazon invests huge amounts of cash in infrastructure so they can handle transactions at peak times (Christmas). The rest of the year that gear sits idle. You get to use it for your app at a per hour rate, and it will scale quickly if your app/site/whatever are a hit. Have an idea but not the gear to demo it? You use the cloud, and your only cost is the rental time fee. Have a hugely popular site already? You use dedicated equipment in your own space.

Re:Heads in the clouds (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312297)

ok, so what happens during Christmas time when they ARE using the majority of the resources they have available? Does that mean I'll just have to deal with a lower resource pool and subsequently crappier service? No thanks. I'm not a big fan of all this fancy pants cloud stuff.

Re:Heads in the clouds (1)

mrrudge (1120279) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312629)

To agree, EC2 for me is a scalable render farm over which I have complete control and only pay for usage. This is incredibly useful for custom graphics programs, and enables me to do things which I'd just not be able to afford ( or wait for ) otherwise.

I also like Dropbox [getdropbox.com] a cloud based service which synchronizes a folder on any linked machines, allowing you access to the files via a web interface, it automatically keeps file versions and allows sharing between accounts.

There's a free 2Gb a/c and a $9.99 pcm, 50Gb a/c.

For me it's a 50Gb usb stick I can't lose, don't need to remember to update, and is accessible from anywhere. For my gf it's a folder on her desktop that means that if she loses her laptop then she won't lose her data.

I've not personally tried, but I believe it's possible to host a truecrypt or similar container there. ( You'd lose the web interface for anything other than the whole file I'd think. )

Re:Heads in the clouds (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312351)

I never did understand why the concept of "cloud computing" was attractive to anyone. I wish someone would explain it to me.

You mean you couldn't understand why all of the big players in software and computer services thought that "cloud computing" was great? You couldn't understand why they wanted people to migrate to a system where they get to charge people a recurring fee to provide services people were getting for a one time fee? What is so hard to understand about why people find "cloud computing " attractive? They get to make more money.
Oh, you couldn't understand why the people who were being asked to pay that money found "cloud computing" attractive? Oh that's easy, it was the latest fad and all the "cool kids" were going to be doing it. If you weren't into "cloud computing", you just weren't with it.

Rent Seeking (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29311897)

This is what is broadly defined as "Rent Seeking"; extracting more revenue from customers without delivering additional value.

The Profit (4, Insightful)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311899)

I guess one more reason to read the EULA before committing your website/app/etc to the cloud. Not a shocker that selling your personal info is a much anticipated profit stream.

The cloudy facts. (1)

iCantSpell (1162581) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311927)

Cloud computing is useless for the average user. Who in their right mind would wants to store everything important to them on an advanced cluster for a monthly fee? They should pay me for all my data, as much as they want to hold on to it. Cloud computing == 0% privacy rate Cloud computing is only useful for private industry, maybe the government, and nothing else.

Re:The cloudy facts. (3, Informative)

japonicus (822346) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312279)

Cloud computing is useless for the average user. Who in their right mind would wants to store everything important to them on an advanced cluster for a monthly fee?

You're assuming that a typical user doesn't have their home computer stuffed full of spy-ware, that they know how to backup everything that matters to them and that they only ever want to access their files from a single location and from a single device. Faceless-mega corporation 'in the cloud' is likely to be much better at managing that data than a typical home user. Even if privacy suffers a bit, at least it will do so in defined and publicised ways [amazon.com] (compare and contrast with the problems of techs at the local repair shop rummaging through your data [pcpro.co.uk] ).

Doctorow gets his terms wrong (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29311931)

Doctorow should know the difference: He is talking about remotely hosted computing, not cloud computing. Vendors can host your applications, data or processing using a cloud, a bunch of clusters, pairs of load-balanced failover servers, or just individual servers. The issues he address remain the same: Lack of endpoint power and control.

Cloud computing is a technology your vendor can use to lower their costs, in some circumstances. As the consumer, it doesn't really matter what it's hosted on. All that matters is its performance, availability, etc. I get tired of end users and journalists mis-using the latest buzzword, but Doctorow should know better.

Ars Technica Already noted and responeded ... (5, Informative)

AlizarinCrimson (1548857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311961)

Ars Technica has a very nice response to this: http://arst.ch/722 [arst.ch]

Re:Ars Technica Already noted and responeded ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312151)

that author uses a mac. why am I going to read something written by an idiot mac user?

Re:Ars Technica Already noted and responeded ... (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312531)

Score ZERO, Flamebait? Who the heck upmodded this guy?

Re:Ars Technica Already noted and responeded ... (1, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312281)

One example of how I use the cloud is Evernote, which I use on my Mac and on my Pre. If I'm going to an off-site event or meeting, then I'll open up Evernote and create a new note in my "Events" folder. I'll paste into that note the meeting location and time information (usually from an email), any related instructions or information (e.g., "go to the front table of Building D and pick up your guest pass from Susie"), and part of a screen grab of a Google map of the location and maybe even a grab of the street view.

I use my cell phone for that, and the data are stored on the phone itself.

When I get to the area, I pull up Evernote on my Pre and this entry appears on my phone, complete with the Google map clip

If I need a map, I can get to Google with my phone.

Another example is flight tracking apps for the Pre and the iPhone; these let you put in your flight information, and they give you real-time updates of gate changes, departure times, and even live maps of the flight.

You're already on the way to the airport, so what good is that information?

A final example is my mobile address book, which, as I pointed out Part II of my Pre review, is a bundle of services that I subscribe to, not a static repository. If I call up a friend's mobile number on the Pre, I know that this is the latest number that they've put into Facebook or Google, and not some potentially out-of-date number that they once sent me in a vCard.

How often does that happen? If I change my number I tell people. At least, the ones I didn't change the number to avoid.

My point is that in all of these instances I'm not just doing the same thing that I previously did but in a browser window--I'm actually having a computing experience that I couldn't previously have sans cloud.

It would have been nice if he's pointed out something that was actually useful.

But the same dynamic doesn't necessarily hold true when giant, faceless corporations deal with each other, and this is why metered cloud service models work in the enterprise.

BINGO! If you find a worthwhile use for it, use it. But the "cloud computing" people want ME to use it; they're going to have to make it useful to ME.

Doctorow is right: it's just so much vapor.

That was the bottom line.

Misunderstanding (3, Insightful)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311967)

Right now, the biggest issue I see facing Cloud Computing isn't the cost but the blatant misunderstanding that some people have as to what Cloud Computing actually is. I work with so many people who have absolutely no idea when it comes to Cloud Computing. One co-worker told me he was setting up a new website for himself. I asked him what hosting provider he was using. His response: "None. I'm putting on the cloud." Another co-worker saw me looking at a screenshot of someone who had over 20 virtual machines running on his PC at one time. He looked at me and said "That had to be done on the cloud."

I'm not necessarily opposed to the idea of Cloud Computing. If providers can make money of off this new platform, more power to them. I just wish we could establish a large billboard that explained in detail what it was.

TCO != 0 for traditional data centers (3, Informative)

bzzfzz (1542813) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311985)

While Doctorow has a point, running an in-house data center is hardly something that lacks recurring costs. Once you get past the hype, the benefit of cloud computing is that it should be possible to leverage technical expertise and management across a much larger user base. The number of people you need who really understand email servers does not go up linearly with the number of users served.

Re:TCO != 0 for traditional data centers (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312323)

Exactly. Doctorow is a sci-fi author not an IT person. What's it cost to run all this stuff in-house right now? Cost of software, paid support, hardware, backups, off-site backups, in-house support staff, etc all add up. Its not just a flat fee. Its reoccurring fees too.

Cloud computing has its niche. Its not a conspiracy. Right now its the buzzword of the day, thus the Doctorow's of the world are out there doing their best to misunderstand it.

SaaS != Cloud Computing (5, Interesting)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311989)

Doctorow's gripe is NOT about cloud computing, but Software as a Service setups, where the software is externally hosted.

"Cloud Computing" is a very nebulous term, ranging from online apps in the browser (Google Apps) to high level compute APIs (Map-Reduce etc) to low level VM hosting and storage (Amazon EC2/S3).

The interesting things, IMO, from the cloud point of view are the compute side, which is a windfall (we used EC2 to great effect with Netalyzr), and the reliability/infrastructure offloading.

And let's do a puzzle here. Yes, a cheap computer is just that, CHEAP, which implies unreliable. Gmail, for all its griping, has pretty much 99.99% uptime. Does Doctorow realize how much even that level of reliability costs when done in-house?

99.99% reliability can be cheap... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312479)

I once set up a hosted service for the IT staffs of about thirty banks, legal firms, etc. built on two redundant entry-level pizza boxes from TigerDirect, something slightly beefer for storage, used routers/firewalls and $50/U rental at a local hosting joint. After five years the service has raked in about half-a-million dollars with an overall profit margin (including occasional, part-time labor costs) of around 80-85% - it only needs a little tuning or upgrade now and again. Uptime? 99.99% - with a third of that caused by the hosting joint.

Re:SaaS != Cloud Computing (1)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312499)

In the last 6-7 years I can think of 1 time when I went to power on my computer and it didn't work like expected. It is very expensive and difficult to have "multiple 9s" for 10 million users... it's rather easy for a single computer. I'll even say that mail server for 100 users probably has over 99% uptime... with outdated hardware and software and me generally slacking on PM.

Of course we can trust "The Cloud" (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#29311993)

After all, we can trust the banks, brokerages, governments, etc., that promise the same level of "trust". No way in hell would I turn data over to "The Cloud".

Re:Of course we can trust "The Cloud" (2, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312251)

So you keep all your money in your home?

Re:Of course we can trust "The Cloud" (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312403)

Lately, the money that I DO keep in my home has done better than the money that's "in the market".

Reality Input (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312395)

Thanks for your excellent followup post, Cornwallis, as this poster nweaver, either attended an exclusive prep school, then either Harvard or Princeton, and belongs to that special plutocrat class of legacy twits, or else is a complete an utter douchebag!

Geez, I mean after every possible fraud has been perpetrated (at least worldwide and on the North American and South American peoples), and all fraud as practised by those in the richest bracket has been legalized, how could anyone not possibly trust the private sector?

Geez, twits such as nweaver don't even realize the American banking system collapsed back in 2007, with those individual banks being shut down after they can longer continue their individual charades (and due to the continuing depression in America). This clown actually doesn't realize that shift by the Obama Administration from "healthcare reform" to "health insurance" is nothing more than a backdoor bailout of the insurance industry - for the same very reasons why they bailed out the banksters - and is likely clueless about everything else in life - and firmly believes the bandits of the "private sector" are superior to everyone else!

Small Monthly Fees (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312017)

Cloud computing works on the "frog in a pot" principle. Slowly increase the temperature, and the frog doesn't know it's being boiled alive.

-Don't worry about backup, let us do it, for a small monthly fee.

-Don't store your data locally, let us do it, for a small monthly fee.

-Don't worry about software, let us provide it for you, for a small monthly fee.

-Don't worry about a PC, let us provide one for you, for a small monthly fee.

Think it won't work? It already does. Look at your cellphone. You don't own it, you don't own any of it's data, you rent it, for a couple of small monthly fees, and some small "pay per use" fees.

Lets look at the XBOX model. You "own" the hardware, but ultimately, Microsoft gets to decide what you can do with it.

XBox live is your "small monthly fee". Expect the next version of XBox to be a rental only agreement.

You get all the "convenience", but none of the service guarantees, security, responsibility, etc.

They get all your "small monthly fees", and all your personal data.

Jeez, the clould is not a conspiracy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312063)

It is a just a fucking technology to make managing those backend servers easier. Not good or not bad.

Now exporting your local business apps to a web-based software service does have implications that having nothing to do with these useless cloud computing conspiracy nutters who see evil coporate machinations like the religious right sees that face of mary in every potato chip.

whopeee (0, Flamebait)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312087)

Another Op. ed. from Doctor Who Fucking Cares. I'm amazed he didn't work in a few dozen plugs for his book.

Well, there are other things, too... (4, Interesting)

hazydave (96747) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312141)

Moving people from their own computing resources to yours is about one fundamental: control. I control my PC in ways that I normally have a great deal of say about (sure, "regular people" may have to hire consultants or expert systems to regain control of their systems, but at least the potential is there).

The recurring payment model is the modern gold rush... companies are willing to give you "free" satellite STBs, cell phones, etc. in return for knowing they're getting your $50-$100 back on a regular basis. This also moves to an interesting market model. With regular purchases, you probably have to convince me that you're the best for my needs, if I'm a well informed consumer. With contracts, once I've bought in, you need to finr the minimal amount of satisfaction that keep the vast majority of your customers "hooked". So people love and defend their choice of Nikon over Canon, or Sony over Panasonic, for the most part. But everyone complains about their cable company, their cellular provider, etc. And yet, those are the guys making the Big Bucks.

So it's inevitable that web services will go in that direction, at least some of the time. There's currently little precedent for getting consumers to pay, but "cloud" subscriptions are at the same time being sold to business as an alternative to expensive desktop tools (even when free desktop tools are also available). For some business use, it's not going to be about the money, per se. They might actually prefer a subscription to a lump payment... that makes expenses predictable... the same reason many businesses lease equipment, rather than buy, even though the long-term expense is greater.

But what they'll really be buying is control. Many companies work hard to keep workers from installing "unapproved" software applications. Move everyone to the cloud, and they lose the ability to customize anything you don't want customized. This is probably the engine that'll push business into the cloud, and get them to pay.

For consumers, follow the cell/cable model... if you sign up for two years of Bubba Jones' computing services, we'll send you a netbook (running a ChromeOS style OS that puts everything under control of the cloud services, even though some local storage will still be possible). There are enough people unconcerned about "real" desktop computing that this will probably seem like a good deal. Particularly if they're unable to do the real math. Which many won't... ask any iPhone toting friend what they paid for their iPhone.. they'll usually say "$200" or some such. When in fact, they're probably paying a total of something like $2000-$3000 over the course of two years, once you factor in the contract costs. But if it's a slow enough bleed, and you keep them happy enough, folks don't notice.

Take a look at the advantage. (3, Insightful)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312173)

for something you currently get for a flat rate or for free without having to give up the money or privacy that cloud companies hope to leverage into fortunes."

Did it ever occur to you that maybe some people don't want to have to worry about upgrades, viruses, slowness, etc... If someone out there can provide computer access to users with the protection from Viruses, hardware becoming obsolete, and other general hardware problems, what's the problem in that?

This could work well for the elderly who just don't want to deal with all the crap that comes with owning a computer.

Confusion of terms. (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312189)

It seems as though there are, really, two quite different flavors of "cloud computing" at issue here with very dissimilar properties.

On the one hand, you have something like Gmail: Basically everything there(your data, all the code, etc.) is on their systems and under their control. On the other hand, you have something like EC2, which is basically just VPS hosting with higher-than-traditional provisioning speed.

The first type creates real risk(particularly for more unsophisticated users) of the expensive longterm rental replacing ownership problem we've seen with other industries. (Consider poor old Grandma, still renting a phone from AT&T decades after 3rd party devices were allowed, cable box rental fees, and all the other attempts to tie individuals to a recurring charge setup). The situation isn't all bad; but there is real room for concern.

The second type seems much less threatening. First, it'll be aimed largely at more sophisticated users, who will have more options and negotiating room. Second, the potential for easier migration will presumably keep costs down and service relatively high. Something like EC2 is largely standard(the compute VMs you are allocated) or fairly simple(the mechanism for requesting/provisioning more) and available in independent implementation. Amazon can still crush the little guys through scale and efficiency; but there is nothing stopping you from going somewhere else, or running your own, if they decide to abuse the power.

Given that Doctorow is writing for a popular publication, about the impact on joe user, I'd say his warnings are justified. They may well not be justified for you but all the whinging in the world about how simple it is(for you) to just run your own server won't change the fact that you'll be surrounded by people paying more than they expected every month for the cloud(just like they do for all the other "services" in their lives). However, it isn't at all clear that his warnings usefully apply to the commercial sense of "cloud computing" where it basically just means hosting.

What a tool. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312213)

Yes, that is what the majority of offerings will be like. But you also have the opportunity to use the cloud in your own way, at least when it comes to data storage. You can purchase computation from one host, storage from another, and so on; you can do your own computing on your own hardware where it suits. All your data can be encrypted, so that only you (and of course, whichever hosts you send the keys to) can read it. Your data is thus as secure as you choose for it to be. The market will demand Open standards for the purpose of interoperability (and the current Cloud computing systems are primarily based on preexisting Open standards as it is) and you will be able to shop around even more than you already can. Using FOSS clients helps protect the integrity of your data.

In fact, this is one of the places trusted computing could help, although you have to assume that someone out there could still compromise your security with a system like that; still, it raises the bar considerably when you're talking about sending your code out for remote execution.

Data storage is nonetheless the first place where the cloud can make a significant positive difference for people. An encrypted, distributed filesystem is the first killer app, for those who actually do have always-on internet access. Eventually that will be everyone (progress marches on) so it's a growth market.

The Personal Cloud (2, Interesting)

improfane (855034) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312249)

The web was supposed to be a cloud to begin with. I think services like Opera Unite are pulling in the opposite direction and reinforcing what the web was supposed to be like to begin with.

Did you know that the HTTP protocol has PUT and DELETE commands? As far as I can tell no browser implements them. It does explain why we have primitive authentication.

I call services like Opera Unite and Mozilla Weave a personal cloud because they can be hosted yourselves. The Opera servers only provide hole punching between unite users.

This is an example of what I want to see http://jkontherun.com/2009/06/16/opera-unite/ [jkontherun.com]
  and my here. [inforumal.com]

It's sad that our society's photographs are on Facebook in low quality. The big tech companies want to make us powerless over our data and retain control of them.

Subscriptions have always been more profitable than actual game sales. Blizzard is laughing its way to the bank after selling the game and then asking for more money to play the game you already paid for.

Re:The Personal Cloud (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312383)

I wish I had a billion mod points for you. I am really looking forward when the internet will become decentralized again. It was engineered to be decentralized but is in practice very centralized. People should host distributed services. I am still stunned people put videos on youtube. It would be so much better to host them on a p2p network. Implementing that should be fairly easy from freenet.

It's not a commodity! (2, Interesting)

j_cocaine (1618405) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312259)

I'm neither especially pro-cloud or anti-cloud, but I'm getting really sick of the people saying that compute is going to be just like electricity or POTS or some other utility. Their assumption there is that they can provide some sort of generic "compute unit" that customers can just plug in to and use on demand. The problem is that network-enabled applications are far more complex than plugging in a toaster. OLTP is different from scientific computing, which is different from graphics rendering, and none of them are similar to what most people use their PCs for. Some require little CPU or RAM, but extremely high I/O, others need a ton of RAM but little CPU (can anyone say Java??). They keep saying that "there's already a generic interface - TCP/IP". WTF? You gotta be kidding me if you think that Amazon or Google is just going to give me generic TCP/IP access to their data center! Can I use EC2 to run a bit torrent client? Tor? Test the next version of nmap or nessus? Whew, I need a smoke after that rant!

I'm sorry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312283)

...you lost me at 'Doctorow on'.

Well Since It's Cory Doctorow... (-1, Troll)

Kartoffel (30238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312329)

...he probably wants to use cloud computing to fight against DRM. Or maybe as a repository for steampunk, hobos, and videos of girls playing ukuleles.

Re:Well Since It's Cory Doctorow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312437)

I figured it was a way for him to sign Little Brother in every bookstore on the planet at the same time while posting about it on every blog in existence.

Obvious man is obvious (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312425)

"Here's something you won't see mentioned, though: the main attraction of the cloud to investors and entrepreneurs is the idea of making money from you, on a recurring, perpetual basis, for something you currently get for a flat rate or for free"

Duh. If the idea can't make money - it's unlikely to stay around if it even happens in the first place. That's the way the world works Cory.

On top of which... Most of things we get for 'free' are actually either a) ad supported or b) free because the company providing them has revenue from elsewhere and needs to build their brand. They aren't really 'free'. The same goes for 'flat rate', the services are generally subsidized and oversubscribed because the provider is betting (usually correctly) that 99.9999% of the users won't ever use the capacity they've signed up for.

The balance of his comment is essentially a Dvorak style rant, meaningless and somewhat disconnected from reality. But, like all pundits, if he doesn't keep the hits coming he has to stop eating... So rants pull the eyeballs and pay the bills.

Even in the clouds.

Heh (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312469)

You can have free software in the cloud... open source webservices that can be run on any server, standards to communicate between different services etc.

What Doctorow Really Wants (-1, Troll)

brit74 (831798) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312475)

Doctorow is an advocate of piracy. Companies need to earn money for their work. One possible impetus for cloud computing is to act as a defense against piracy - since you need an account, just like World Of Warcraft. What I'd really like to see is Doctorow admit that his pro-piracy stance is fueling the impetus for cloud computing. He simply cannot expect other people to work hard creating the software he uses if he demands getting it all for free. Companies aren't going to sit around and get the rug pulled out from under them.

Doctrow is Not In Charge of Gundam! (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 4 years ago | (#29312643)

Cloud computing has improved in recent years but it still has significant drawbacks compared to having a nice fast system on your desk. Most significantly, not having your data on-site and in your control is off-putting to a lot of companies. If you go with an in-house solution (Citrix, Sun-Ray, et al) you can keep your data on hand but you run into several other issues including having to pay someone to actually administer those servers -- I suspect that by the time you're done it actually costs more to do it that way in most of the companies who would consider that. You can cut corners on the servers or administrators but performance suffers when you do that.

The argument that it's a scheme to put users on a subscription model is somewhat weak -- if you use commercial software you're already on a subscription model for all intents and purposes anyway. Most of the thin client deployments I've seen are abandoned pretty quickly. A couple of larger ones seem to have risen out of someone's need to justify buying all those thin clients. I can't cite any examples that would lead me to believe that thin solutions are feasible except perhaps in a few very specific applications.

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