The “Wozniak Warning” about Cloud Computing: Is it being blown completely out of proportion?
By now you’ve probably caught wind of Steve Wozniak’s big “warning” concerning the soundness of cloud computing in the coming years. Apparently, “the Woz” feels that one of the potential pitfalls of a cloud-dominated future is one of an increasing trend toward non-ownership of digital products and information. Perhaps it’s better to let the man speak for himself:
“I want to feel that I own things,” Wozniak said at the event. “A lot of people feel, ‘Oh, everything is really on my computer,’ but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we’re going to have control over it.”
Regardless of one’s position in the matter, he does have a point. It’s true that cloud providers and tech companies (including regular businesses) are pushing for metered or leased products and services. After all, if you own something and rent it out to someone else, you can continue reaping the benefits of it long into the future. Certainly this is the sort of model that cloud computing advocates hope to put into place, no one is disputing that. Likewise, people should be much more wary about corporations that want to drive them toward accepting increasingly pervasive non-ownership arrangements and agreements.
However, it is very suspect for someone who is connected to an organization such as Apple to poke fingers at the cloud computing industry when they are in fact, already doing what he is attempting to “warn us” about. For example, iCloud, Apple’s new cloud interface system (that’s being built into every new device they produce), is out in full force. Though it’s a bit “conspiracy theory-like” to make this sort of statement, it would seem as though Apple is attempting to create damaging waves in the cloud computing blogosphere while simultaneously pushing and strategically positioning their own cloud service. From an outward perspective it’s a little bit like “good cop, bad cop”; Wozniak creates the controversy and instills a sense of dread, then Apple swoops in to “save the day” with a functional cloud service. Maybe Wozniak will make some public statement at a later date confirming the superiority of Apple’s cloud? This is of course informed speculation, so “take it with a grain of salt”.
But going beyond business and taking a look at the potential list of “horrible problems” which cloud computing might face, we are left with the recurring them of security. First off, no one is claiming that cloud computing is an absolutely secure type of infrastructure, it’s still growing and developing though. If one were to take a quick look around at the state of things “right now” you will quickly learn that “all is not as it seems and that there is trouble in paradise”. That’s right; security is a huge issue these days under traditional IT infrastructure! It’s absolutely ridiculous to hold cloud computing to a much higher standard than that of the current system that’s in place. Aside from security qualms, the cloud offers a great number of definitive benefits over traditional IT and computing which cannot be overlooked. Benefits such as energy conservation, profit retention, risk avoidance, elastic processing power distribution, the ability to quickly design and deploy complex and customized architectures, etc…the list goes on and on.
Certainly some organizations will be apt to push consumers toward leasing products or services and denying them ownership of anything tangible, this much is obvious. But isn’t it true that we all have overhead internet service costs to attend to? The difference between your run-of-the-mill metered service and cloud computing is that cloud computing (if it’s actually being utilized properly) can add significant value and capability to business’ or individual’s budget. In other words, cloud computing can really help you “get things done” (usually at a higher level of quality and in a shorter amount of time too). In this way, paying for cloud services in a metered fashion makes economical sense.
Also, given the fact that software and hardware updates/upgrades are rolling in so fast that many companies can’t (financially) keep up with the breakneck pace, what value does ownership present? Is it really a good thing for businesses to purchase overpriced software every single quarter only to have to chuck it in the trash as they upgrade? It used to be that upgrades were only rolling in annually, now we’re seeing them come in on a near quarterly basis! Cloud computing presents the absolute best alternative way of dealing with this conundrum; providers and vendors do the upgrading and the users reap the benefits through actually using the software.
The many tangible benefits of cloud computing add up to one distinct truth, it is an improvement over current technological methodologies and will eventually replace the system we currently have in place. Will there be growing pains during this period of cloud transition and adoption? Of course; whenever one institution usurps another there are consequences, but what we have to ask ourselves is, do we want growth and expansion (cloud) or should we be happy to remain shackled to a stagnating system (grid/traditional)?
Don’t wait for the cloud revolution to come to you, get certified and lead the charge!