The virtual data center, whose “cloud” is it anyway?

I’ve been reading this morning about “opening the cloud”. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such total misunderstanding about what “the cloud” really is.

First of all, there is no “the cloud” (I cringe every time I hear that said). Google has a cloud, Amazon has a cloud, SwiftWater Telecom has a cloud (that’s us 🙂 ). There is no giant, amorphous, entity identifiable as “the cloud” (it’s almost as bad as hearing people talk about “the Google”).

Next is the idea of wresting “the cloud” away from corporate and government control, as if there’s something inherently wrong with “cloud capitalism”. Companies that provide cloud based services are not just “organizing” things on “the cloud”. The money for servers, facilities, and software for a cloud don’t magically appear from nowhere. If you want a free cloud with no corporate attachment, ante up and build one yourself, then you can give it away for free to whoever you like.

The idea that Google’s fight with China, which has devolved to censorship of Google’s search engine results, has anything to do with fighting for control of “the cloud” is ridiculous. It has everything to do with censorship, not with any legitimate security concern of China. And yes, Google owns their cloud that they provide Gmail from. It’s Google’s right to operate their facilities the way they see fit, it’s their property.

I don’t really know what to say about the idea that Google is creating a “cloud” of 10 million books (all I can picture is getting rained on by encyclopedias). I’m not commenting on Google’s plan to put books online, but I’m not sure what the connection is between digitizing books and using cloud powered services to store or disseminate them. Calling Wikipedia a “cloud” is just as incomprehensible.

I don’t believe there’s any lack of competition in cloud computing, as asserted by the article. There’s no way that “the Google” can stop me from building a cloud, acquiring customers for my cloud, or control the content or services of my cloud (I havn’t gotten any cease and desist letters from them yet). I don’t know how any corporate entity could possibly manage to control “the cloud”, you might as well try to take over the entire Internet (What are we going to do tonight, Brain? The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!)

The fact is, cloud computing advances all the social agendas listed. You can use someone’s cloud powered apps (SaaS, software as a service), you can use a cloud to develop and run your own apps (PaaS, platform as a service), or you can have a cloud powered virtual server of your very own (IaaS, infrastructure as a service). All this comes with far lower cost and lower barrier to entry. People who could never have afforded a data center dedicated or co-located server can now have their own virtual server, completely under their control. Doesn’t sound much like evil corporations trying to rule the cloud, does it?

It’s time to embrace cloud computing and stop babbling about mythical corporate overlords. This isn’t Skynet and the Terminators aren’t on their way.


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