With all due respect to Cory Doctorow, he’s wrong.
In his article Not every cloud has a silver lining (Guardian) he states:
There’s something you won’t see mentioned by too many advocates of cloud computing – the main attraction is making money from you.
And I suppose all the vendors of physical storage, the hard drives, etc., are interested in your spiritual well being!
Here’s the heart of Doctorow’s beef with cloud computing:
Rather than buying a hard-drive once and paying nothing – apart from the electricity bill – to run it, you can buy cloud storage and pay for those sectors every month. Rather than buying a high-powered CPU and computing on that, you can move your computing needs to the cloud and pay for every cycle you eat.
The point he misses is that cloud computing exists because it answers a real need.
We aren’t prohibiting you from buying physical hard drives, I assure you. In fact, we think physical and cloud storage will work together, complementing each other. It’s not one or the other.
Our focus is to provide specific services which deliver quantifiable value for both individual consumers and business users. As we mentioned earlier, the basic promise of cloud computing: instant access to your data anytime, anywhere, on any device, is already a reality. It’s all about convenience, ease-of-use, cost, and of course, value-delivered. The cloud is a disruptive innovation.
Let’s review the benefits of cloud computing:
In addition to cloud storage,
the cloud brings game-changing pricing and service capabilities to disaster recovery, fault tolerance, geographic redundancy, and other solutions that have been prohibitively expensive to everyone except for the largest organizations in the world. Here are some specific drivers of business value:
Financial Benefits: The very nature of “pay per use” makes large upfront financial outlays a thing of the past. So your CFO won’t bug you about capital expenditures. You’ll simply have to pay a monthly fee for renting the data center and the services you choose. And yes, that’s a monthly operational cost.
Better use of Human Resources: Your IT people don’t have to spend time doing repetitive tasks like provisioning and setting passwords. That will be done in an automated way by your service provider.
“Time to value” is greatly accelerated using the cloud. Softlayer, for example, allows lets you deploy on-demand computing instances running enterprise-grade and open source operating systems in as few as five minutes. Can your IT department do that today?
Scalability and Flexibility: The cloud provides customers with the capability to start small and grow with demand, in real-time. Cloud “burstability” allows for rapid scaling to meet demand caused by usage spikes.
Leaner and Greener Infrastructure: The cloud allows companies to outsource their IT infrastructure, and maximize utilization of the computing power of their service provider. This makes for a leaner and greener IT infrastructure for all.
Service Oriented Architecture: Cloud Storage accessed via RESTful Web Services APIs provides new capabilities for developers. For the first time, an abstracted, services rich storage layer is a true SOA implementation.
I already hear commercials on TV:
“Are you tired of lugging your laptop everywhere? Are you tired of transferring your files every time you switch devices? Are your running out of space for your endless downloads of videos, songs, and movies? Do you want to access your files anytime, anywhere, on any device? Try cloud computing, and your life will never be the same.”
The flexibility cloud computing offers individuals is unparalleled. Again, it is the user-experience which will determine cloud use by the consumer. And as we see more and more personal files (videos, music, photographs) explode, we’ll see a bigger and bigger role for cloud computing.
A final statement. We do want to make money. Like everyone else in the market, we’re going to have to deliver value to earn your trust and dollars. And if you find that you get more value from buying your own physical storage or owning and operating your own datacenter, go ahead. We’re betting we can show you a better way, a way that complements your local storage.