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The Case Against Cloud Computing

Palm Cloud ServiceWhile not specifically focused on the Palm Pre or WebOS, an interesting piece has just appeared from PC Magazine questioning the ultimate prospects of the "Cloud". Entitled, "The Case Against Cloud Computing", this PCMag article is written by analyst Tim Bajarin who is also president of research firm Creative Strategies.

In his piece, Mr. Bajarin uses a cautionary personal recollection from twenty years ago to set the stage for an unsettling future where all data is moved from the desktop to the cloud and rendered potentially inaccessible. Bajarin then questions the inherently patched-together nature of the Internet as an unreliable repository for personal and business data, not to mention the ever-increasing threat from "cyber criminals".

The piece lead into the basic questions and concerns many consumers are faced with when transitioning to the cloud, but the piece contains little in the way of real-world examples of Cloud-centric products such as Palm's upcoming Pre or even some Asus EEE netbooks that count a bundled online storage account as complimentary storage space to their device's local hard drive capacity. In addition, it would have been helpful for the article to cite some solid numbers (where available) such as the amount of users who use a web-based e-mail such as Gmail or Hotmail as their primary means of communication would help flesh out the argument that consumers are comfortable with archiving less critical forms of data online.

The PCMag article also serves as a useful reminder that to date, very little in the way of outright promotion for the "cloud" has appeared from either Palm or Sprint. Such material is presumably in the works and will hopefully arrive on the heels of the Pre's official retail availability, as many average consumers likely remain unaware of WebOS' revolutionary cloud-based concept. In fact, the incorrect assumption that the Pre is still a tethered device analogous to the current crop of iTunes/Palm Desktop/BlackBerry Desktop/ActiveSync-connected handheld devices could be a possible contributor to Palm's low ratings in this recent Changewave survey.

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somewhat of a yawner

pmjoe @ 4/20/2009 11:37:54 AM # Q
The article mostly seems concerned with Internet connectivity failures. You can get around much of that by keeping a local copy of items you've accessed recently or anticipate accessing in the near future (which can be automated in software). Unless hackers or cyber-terrorists suddenly show themselves capable of regularly bringing the Internet to its knees, most Internet reliability issues have known workarounds.

I'm much more concerned about people's willingness to put their personal and sometimes business intellectual property (vaguely taken to mean any personal data) on some 3rd party server. I would never give Google (for example) access to my personal e-mail, yet I am shocked by the number of people who do.

RE: somewhat of a yawner
SeldomVisitor @ 4/20/2009 11:58:52 AM # Q
Palm has numerous cautionary words about their WebOS servers in some of their recent SEC filings w.r.t. security and scalability (I wonder how they checked if their servers are going to be reliable with, say, 50,000 simultaneous accesses?)


RE: somewhat of a yawner
vetdoctor @ 4/21/2009 4:05:32 PM # Q
Though I know nothing, when I was discussing this with a savvy friend he told me, "Heck Martin, unless you are encoding the emails both ways everyone in the world is reading them anyway".

Yes, I use google for my email. You're saying AOL or Microsoft had more trust?


In short, I had always believed that the world involved magic: now I thought that perhaps it involved a magician.
- Chesterton

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Two failures in 30 years. Change the system.

timepilot84 @ 4/20/2009 12:33:21 PM # Q
Wow, so there have been two epic failures in 30 years. For that we should forego the convenience of having data available the other 99.99999% of the time? This notion that the data will only be available off of the Cloud is serious FUD as well. It had to originate somewhere, didn't it? Or is this paranoid author portenting a day when we will record our videos or write our missives to be saved directly to the cloud? Even then, it's these items are still more available in the cloud than they are stuck mired on our home computers behind firewalls, hidden behind NAT'd IP addresses, or simply turned off.
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If it's good enough for thermonuclear war...

bhartman34 @ 4/20/2009 3:54:28 PM # Q
...obviously, it's good enough for your Address Book.

I think the author mistakes the Internet with the cell phone infrastructure. Sure, your cell phone can be knocked out of commission by a lot of things, but that doesn't mean the Internet itself goes down.

I would certainly be worried about the stability of the servers that Palm puts the data on, but the solution is no different than it would be for your files saved on any other corporate setting: Make backups. From what I've read, backing up your data is as simple as plugging the Pre in via USB and dragging the files over.

Would I "trust" the cloud with my data? Most of it, sure. There might be some data I would be hesitant to send up to the cloud, but that's what encryption is for. Anything I could encrypt, I'd probably consent to sending to the cloud.

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cloud computing

philpalm @ 4/20/2009 7:41:45 PM # Q
I have linked a few of the cloud computing articles and basically if I get enough time, I would put it all on wikipedia.

My thread at 1src on cloud computing:
http://www.1src.com/forums/showthread.php?t=149432

Basically the early adoptors of Pre will have more to say about this issue. Future programs that use Cloud computing may be a way to prevent hacking and stealing of programs because the programs will exist on the net instead of out in the wild and exposed to hackers and people who will try to break down the code for their own purposes.

If cloud computing becomes a significant source of income, we will see more things use cloud computing.

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The case FOR cloud computing

timepilot84 @ 4/21/2009 2:31:06 PM # Q
I have an iPhone 3g, and I've had to replace it twice since I bought it last July. The last time was a few weeks ago (the white plastic back started cracking and came loose from the front of the phone). Restoring an iPhone from a backup is one of the most tedious processes known to man. Fortunately, I didn't have to immediately, because I was able to connect to my Exchange server at work where I sync'd my personal contacts as well as my calendar and email, and less that five minutes later, I was back in business making phone calls and sending emails and texts. How much greater would that experience have been if I'd been able to restore all of my applications and their data the same way?
RE: The case FOR removable memory
twrock @ 4/21/2009 5:04:53 PM # Q
How much greater would that experience have been if you could have just popped the microSD card that contained your backup into your new device and had the whole thing back the way it had been in just minutes?

Yeah, I definitely want removable memory in my mobile device.

Hey Palm! Where's my PDA with Wifi and phone capabilities?

RE: The case FOR cloud computing
joad @ 4/21/2009 9:23:23 PM # Q
Yup. I can restore my Treo 755 perfectly in about 10-25 minutes using Backupman. Java and everything, bless you UDMH.

Here's this WebOS- "pre" -tending that it's a complete improvement over the ancient PalmOS. There is a lot to love about it, but taking away all the benefits of a local, swappable flash card was not at all worth the millimeter or so that it saved. People will probably want to keep these phones for the 2 years they've extended their contract to get the rebate - in 2011 will 8GB be much for a combined iPod, PDA and phone? Is it much even right now?

Restoring from the "cloud" from a non-CDMA area will be a wonder to see, too..
Palm "Preh": as in "eh, where's the microSD and Garnet emulator?"

RE: The case FOR cloud computing
timepilot84 @ 4/22/2009 12:01:14 PM # Q
The fact is, we don't know what the engineering trade off was when Palm omitted removable storage. We have no idea what the cost was to put that capability in to this device. I've heard so many people talk about how easy it is to do, but as of yet, none of these people have actually made a phone ever, AFAIK.

Personally, I don't care about that. SD was always just a way to make up for inadequate local storage for me. If a device has more than 4Gb, it's good enough as is, IMO. I don't lament the fact that my iPod Nano only has 4Gb, so I doubt that it'll be an issue with this phone, either.

RE: The case FOR cloud computing
twrock @ 4/22/2009 5:34:00 PM # Q
timepilot84 wrote:
SD was always just a way to make up for inadequate local storage for me. If a device has more than 4Gb, it's good enough as is, IMO.

There's the rub. "Adequate" is very relative to the user's needs/wants. It all depends on how you are using the device, what kind of tool that device is for any given person. So unless the built-in memory is huge, there are always going to be some people who need more. Providing a simple way for the user to expand that memory themselves allows the manufacturer to limit the amount of memory they put in the device in the first place.

However, point well taken. It might just be that it costs less in design/manufacturing to have 16 gb vs 8 gb and a micro SD slot. I surely don't know.

Hey Palm! Where's my PDA with Wifi and phone capabilities?

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