If you read a lot of technology news on the interwebs, it appears as though we will soon all be using cloud computing. No longer will people have hard drives or buy programs. They will lease it all from the cloud. (There are many, many things listed under “cloud computer” from Gmail to Twitter. I am talking about the ultimate goal of those who advocate “cloud computing” where your “computer” is on the net and you just connect from home) There are many reasons why cloud computing is not for everyone.
Let me start with the reason closest to my life – high end photography. I went to a baseball game on 10 April and shot over 4 GB of photos. I then loaded these photos onto my computer for editing and sharing with others. It seems to take longer that I can stand to get the photos off my camera and onto my hard drive. I can’t imagine how annoying it would be to have to wait to upload them onto a cloud computing environment. I shoot only in RAW files so I can do some serious editing on the photos and retain the best quality. Sometimes I delete up to half of the photos from a shoot because it’s hard to tell from the back of the camera if it’s subtly out of focus. So imagine waiting forever to upload photos only to ultimately end up deleting them! Photoshop and Lightroom require pretty beefy computers to work correctly, I can’t imagine how slow it would be to have my screen refresh after each edit. It already takes longer than instantaneous on my home computer. This use case – high end photography – also lead me to another reason cloud computing will not be for everyone: bandwidth limits.
Right now, Internet service providers across the USA are getting ready to follow parts of Europe in charging people for the amount of bandwidth they use. So imagine a world where you can’t take too many photos because when you upload it to the computer to edit, you might go over your limit. And if you do video editing it would be even worse! Thus, another reason why cloud computing is a lot of hype.
Do you trust this entity to store all of your personal data? What if they lose the data (major companies and goverments do all the time) and someone finds out embarassing or damaging things about you? What if someone steals all your banking info?
What if your internet connection goes away? Now what? You can’t do ANYTHING – no typing, photo work, or anything else because all of your computing resources are online.
The last major point is that you are not in control of your computing assets. What if you piss off Microsoft and they turn off your cloud computer. You are left without any way to do your work, homework, etc. Right now the only similar thing that can happen is if the government seizes your equipment. Also, what if you want to install programs that your cloud computing provider doesn’t agree with? Or if you want to watch something they don’t agree with? What if the owner of the cloud computing resource is a Fundamentalist that doesn’t let you watch R-rated movies on your cloud computer? There is no reason why anyone should want to turn over control of his or her computer! Well, almost no reason.
If your only computer use consists of email and light Internet usage – then go ahead. Otherwise, I just don’t see a point to cloud computing.