Clouds are all the rage in technology, these days. Everyone's got a cloud. Everyone wants your data on their cloud. It's a selling point: hey, you don't have to waste your own hard drive space, multiple users can access data from multiple access points at any time, and you can get your data with little more than an internet connection. Sounds great, right?
Not to me.
Awww, but how could you not like this little guy?
First of all, who ELSE has access to my data in the cloud? I need to clarify something here: I recognize that I'm vaguely wandering into "crazy conspiracy theory" territory here, but I'm not quite ready to move to a cabin in the woods and start taping twigs to bombs. I'm just pointing out that in exchange for the convenience of access everywhere and hard drive space or whatever, my data is stored in some ethereal server bank somewhere that's owned and maintained by someone else entirely. I'm not even worried about the illegal or illicit stuff I don't want people knowing about; what if I decide to branch out into a new retail venture that competes directly with one of the big cloud providers? Suppose I really luck out and come up with an amazing, innovative business strategy that redefines the way people do business online? What's to stop the cloud providers from dipping into my business files on their cloud server and seeing my secrets? What's to stop them from a completely-accidental-we-swear server failure that loses or corrupts my data?
That idiot at Geek Squad said everything was fine.
But okay, fine. There are other options besides the big playas for clouds. And hey, why would they bother with whatever I'm doing? I'm the little guy. They'd rather collect their monthly fee than risk any sort of litigation, right? But it's 2012. We live in the era of cyber warfare. Hacktivism is becoming part of the lexicon. And again, I'm not saying I'm a target. I doubt various PDFs of RPG rule sets and dozens of unfinished short stories and scripts are high priority targets to any hackers. But why would I take my uninteresting documents and store them on some giant, nebulous cloud that makes a nice, large target for someone looking to impact the internet with an attack? What if I lose internet access? Well, if the files are on my computer I can still access and use them. If they're on the cloud they might as well be on the moon; I'm not going to be able to see them until I'm back online.
If my hard drive fails or I lose my data on my personal computer, I have limited options: I can try to fix it myself if I'm technologically-inclined enough (I'm not), I can cut my losses and replace the faulty computer, or I can pay somebody to try and fix/recover whatever went wrong. So what happens when the cloud fails? I get the online equivalent of a TV network's "TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES" sign and I'm left to fume as I wait for someone I don't know, who I can't contact, to fix a problem I don't even know about before I can access the data I trusted with them. And as more and more websites and companies move to clouds, the impact of a failure on the cloud's end reaches more and more people. One person's personal server going down is a problem for one person. A server going down in the cloud is a problem for hundreds or thousands of people. Is the savings on equipment, staff, and development worth the risk?
Here's where I get all Andy Rooney: I kind of like the idea of buying something and owning it. That's changed in recent years from buying a CD to buying a music file, but I can still see that progress bar tracking the file as it makes its way onto my computer. More and more frequently, though, I buy something only to be encouraged to store it with the people I bought it from. Just let me have the thing I paid for, or admit that I'm not actually buying the thing, I'm simply paying for access to it.
Feel free to correct me where I'm wrong. I fully admit that I'm coming at this from the viewpoint of a person who DOESN'T wrangle servers or data systems. Is the cloud worth it to you?
Flickr photos (in order) King Cloud by Karen Ka Ying Wong and Thunder Storm Clouds by Per used under a Creative Commons License.