Tip of the Month
Every month our Director, Axel Oudijk, gives business users a top tip to help prevent problems that might adverseley affect their office network in the future.
Tip of the Month - March
Cloud Computing – beware of the Storm
The latest sea change idea in the way that we all use our computers is being touted as “Cloud Computing” in the media and by some of the major computer players. For those of you who backup your data using an online service, you will already be familiar with the basic concept; your data is held in “cyberspace”, so if your house burns down or some nice Hoody runs off with your laptop and backup drive, you can still retrieve your data from the “clouds”.
Cloud computing takes things a little bit further; Why keep anything on your Hard Disk Drive at all when you know it’s only a matter of time before it fails? Then you have to go to the bother of changing it and re-mounting your software and data…… Imagine if all your software was available over the Internet for a monthly subscription and all of your photos, documents and music were also held on the Internet too? Ideal no?
Not according to Richard Stallman founder of the Free Software Foundation, who said in the Guardian last September that it’s “simply a trap aimed at forcing more people to buy into locked, proprietary systems that would cost them more and more over time.” We know that from our research that “Hosted Services” may save you the initial high cost of software purchase, but over time the monthly subscriptions will become un-economical.
Jonathan Weber, in his article for the Times last May pointed out that years ago companies used huge IBM mainframe computers (effectively clouds) with dumb terminals that were ok as long as nothing went wrong, when the IT administrators would block access and became generally unhelpful. This led to the Personal Computer rebellion in order to increase freedom and creativity. Now Google is looking to partner it’s Cloud Computing operations with IBM. This sort of déjà vu really should start the alarm bells sounding.
Lastly there is the Security and Privacy issues. What happens when there is a major worldwide Virus outbreak? Can your Cloud Computing provider guarantee the security of your data? If your business has data critical to running your day to day work then outsourcing may cause you problems in the future.
Personal Privacy is one of the most contentious areas of Cloud Computing. People were very worried about crime, so UK Governments have subsequently turned this country into the surveillance society. Terrorism? Don’t worry, the Government has changed the laws so anyone can be held for X amount of days without charge, plus record all e-mails, texts and phone conversations at will. Want a mobile phone? Sure, now you can be tracked wherever you go. Do you really want to take your life ( as most of us have on our computer hard drives ) and transfer it all to a nuclear bomb proof vault in the USA? Let’s not be paranoid here but think about the implications. At the moment the powers that be can retrospectively track anyone they deem to be a “threat” and within a short time could know everything about you, what you say, and where you’ve been. It would only take a short step to track everyone in real time. Think about it.
Some say that Cloud Computing is just a slushy marketing buzz word. We’d say keep your wits about you and your eyes wide open and think long and hard before you get involved.