Cloud Computing

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The term “cloud computing” is a marketing buzzword. It describes a business model where the delivery of computing is a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility over the network.

Here we question the main advantages and benefits that so much promoted cloud computing model can provide:

a) Remote computing. It reduces the need to have strong computational power and longer battery life on mobile devices. - But if needed we can have the same advantage by remotely connecting to our desktop PCs, there are applications that can remotely login to a PC using a mobile device and use the PC fully through the screen and keyboard of a mobile (e.g. TeamViewer, Windows Remote Desktop, etc.). And it is not at all necessary to have all your data and services to be hosted somewhere in the remote servers of a cloud.

b) Efficient exchange of data. It is more efficient for users to exchange the data because everything is in one place (the cloud). - This is not always true. First by continuously downloading and uploading all our personal data onto remote servers creates heavy traffic consumption. Second most often we exchange our data with peers who are located at least in the same country and the best way to exchange this data is by P2P communication and not at all by sending all the data overseas onto the cloud and then receiving it back onto peers devices.

c) Security. The data is more secure if it is kept in the highly protected cloud servers. - Keeping all the data in one place does not necessarily mean to have it more secure, and sometimes it can also be a single point of failure, as the proverb says - Don't keep all the eggs in one basket.

d) Trust and control of data. Users can control their data better with cloud services. - Users have no reason to trust all their computing and data to private companies. We can afford to install personal/organizational mail servers if needed. We can use encryption mechanisms with the applications we use to have the preferred level of security over the Internet. But it is not likely to happen with many web services provided over the cloud.

e) Interoperability and standardisation. It will be more easy to provide interoperability of different services if they are in packages, provided by few cloud service companies. - The truth is that most often happens that two big players become competitors and create walls between each other rather than cooperating and creating standards for interoperability (e.g. Microsoft vs. Apple, Google+ vs. Casebook (it is not a typo, Google Check Spelling dose not recognise the word Facebook, it offers instead Casebook, Passbook or Forsook)). Apparently if we want to have seamless growth of services and applications we need to provide same standards for all players. Interoperability will enable the creation of new cross-domain services and applications which can revolutionize social, educational, health or business areas. But it is not the best strategy that the one who decides the rules is also the one who benefits from them. Companies will not come offering best rules and standards for everyone. There has to be the third strong and neutral party who can decide the rules of the game and who will not have vested interest in it (e.g. W3C, ISO, etc).

f) Quality. Companies need to have big profits to offer quality services. - It is not at all necessary that the companies will make huge profits by adapting and selling services that users do not need. They can still continue investing in making quality services by earning reasonably.

Why then, are large ICT companies lobbying and pushing in favour of clouds with such strength? It is rather self-explanatory - this is a business model to lock more users into their services. But if the cloud is such a good thing then why not allow everyone to have his/her own personal cloud or one for his/her organization. And we see here the right trend - to create an ecosystem of interoperable user-centric personal clouds.