Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Is the cloud bad?

So Richard Stallman has attacked the idea of the cloud as a ' trap aimed at forcing more people to buy into locked, proprietary systems'.

Cloud computing (a term I'm not particular fond of) is often used to describe various forms of service provision of the computing stack. The shift of parts of the computing stack (apps to hardware) from a product to a service based economy is a consequence of the growing ubiquity of particular areas of IT.

Simply put, cloud computing is an expected consequence of IT becoming ubiquitous and it provides a large number of benefits through economies of scale and componentisation. However that said, it's not without risk and the key issue for any consumer is interoperability and portability between the different providers. In practice, such portability will only ever occur with open sourced standards.

So, is the cloud a trap? Well, the cloud is not a bad idea but some of the current incarnations are. If it's not open sourced then be aware of what you're getting involved in, either as a customer or a potential partner. In the web industry, you're potentially handing over strategic control of your future business to a technology partner and in the long run Stallman is right to call that 'worse than stupidity'.