As I write this blog I had read a few cables released on Wikileaks. Having very less political background it is quite tough for me to make an assessment on the ethical nature of releasing these cables. Is it free speech? or is it espionage? These are not the questions that really trouble me. What concerns me much is about Web Democracy and security of information on the Web.
I have been assuming that the Web 2.0 is all about democracy and it the netizens who decide what has to and what not to be published in the social web. Little did I realize that governments (individuals) or companies have superior power to freeze the services offered to you on the net.
Consider this case. You have all your applications on the web (Your emails, contacts, documents, account details, transaction details, files etc.., etc..). For some reason your account has been freezed for use; can you imagine the impact! And if you thought that might not happen to you since you are not affiliated to any political or terrorist organization or interests, RETHINK!
Your account may get freezed
If your company gets into legal or political action (In case you use a company account)
If your service provider gets into legal or political action
If your country is banned for service export by the Service Provider’s nation
If your country bans the service provider (this is not new. Google Docs was blocked when I was in China)
If your content is illegal (Governments may be able to subpoena the data without a search warrant). How much effort do we spend to scrutinize the legality of the documents we hold or emails we send.
From hardware reliability perspective the cloud may be safe. But on political and legal grounds the cloud may not be safe necessitating the need for redundancy. How much time and effort (as a individual user) do we really spend to read the terms and conditions before using a service? They are clearly drafted to protect the service provider and the provider is not obligated to do anything for you. Need to rethink!
Note: The blog is based completely on my personal opinion. No proper research was made to assertion the facts. Please do your own research before deciding.
After I wrote the blog below I just Googled to find if such trends are expected in the near future. As usual I realized that I am already 6 months behind. The video in the left may explain better the way chrome is going to evolve and the future of net books. Its not ‘in the near future’. It is happening!
Me and my colleagues were discussing how iPad would change the computing landscape. What we discovered was that while most people would continue to see iPad as just another gadget it is a part of a major change that would impact IT in the near future. For iPad to be seen as an replacement to Laptop or PC one would complain the lesser processing capacity and memory. If we see the usage from the end user perspective these hefty machines would mostly be used for Email & Documents (Official), Browsing & Entertainment (Personal) and file storage. Cloud Computing (http://blog.shankarananth.com/?p=261) as discussed in my earlier blog would transform the way users access these applications.
Currently most or all of these applications can be accessed in the cloud without the need for installation of huge software or processing capacity though most users don’t actually use them beyond email. A manager for example can access all his emails via hosted solution and can save/edit call types of documents he would need via Google docs or Zoho. A Developer or Engineer would still complain access to proprietary Programming or Engineering applications. These applications can be installed on Cloud OS Servers and they can still be accessed via browsers.
This transformation has made Google release Chrome in an already flooded browser market. To Google, Chrome is an OS to deliver its next generation cloud applications. Yeah! Its true, chrome even has a Task manager. This would be big blow to Microsoft with its major revenues from Windows and Office software. Don’t be surprised. Future Google chrome may not be installed on Windows. Chrome would be booting with the machine at startup, connect to the internet and would be the OS to access applications on the cloud. Over the years I never expected a ‘SEARCH ENGINE’ as I saw it years ago, would challenge Microsoft on Software or Chinese Governments on Information Policies.
With all applications accessible via the browser the dependence on Windows also would tend to go down. One can still argue that linux was all around with the necessary software freely available but still could not change Microsoft’s dominance. Here’s the trick, to change people’s mindset with PC would be difficult. But as new devices come up Microsoft has to freshly compete. For example the windows mobile market share Vs Apple iPhone or other Mobile OS is not comparable to it PC OS market share. Slowly Apple would get into the market with new generation devices that would replace the PC and its functions. This is one more reason why Google came up with Android and Nexus One. Soon we can expect a gPad from Google.
While internet access and higher bandwidth is widely available and constantly improving there is still a worry about accessing applications offline. While Google has it Gears to address this issue there are many developments expected in this area. So are concerns with security which are to be addressed for people to adapt the technology as fast as it is growing now.
The technology is promising. But it is up to the people to decide its tenure in the market place.
When I first heard about cloud computing I was wondering if it was really worth the fancy terminology. To me it was just a marketing term for hosted applications. My first experience started three years ago when I moved my Website’s email from my hosting provider to Google Apps. At that point of time I never knew it was Cloud computing or specifically SaaS I was moving too. To me Google Apps was much better than my hoster’s email due to reduced downtime.
As usual it requires media hype for me to look back what things actually are. One’s own knowledge is the hurdle to learn new things. Over confident of knowing what it is I didn’t really track the developments though I keep hearing people discuss. But that’s also the problem with SaaS, it is difficult to see any difference.
It was Google App Engine that made me rethink. Though I registered my first application long back, only recently did I try to deploy my first application (‘Hello World’ of course). A small program but it still brought me a lot of insight to what things are. As a solution provider I wonder how this technology is going to change the world of computing. Though there is a big crowd out there harping on security issues on the cloud I don’t really see them as issues. It is only for the cloud consultants and the security companies to market their businesses.
I really admire the PaaS of Cloud Computing. My library application was on the shelves for a long time due to lack of time and build custom application accessible from the internet and also integrating it to my drupal powered website. With Zoho creator it is just a few clicks and four hours (to upload data) on a weekend, Wow! the application is up online. Integration with drupal? don’t worry la! Embedding the form on a drupal page is just that simple (http://www.shankarananth.com/site/index.php?q=node/49)
The biggest thing that would change the way people think at cloud computing is the time one spends on hardware and software maintenance. A chemical engineer and a solution provider I feel annoyed on more of my time being spent on fixing these issues rather than focus on my core competence.