Obstacles against Cloud computing

Posted: 28/12/2010 in Internet, Technology
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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Google is pushing users to rely more and more on the cloud: They are preparing the infrastructure to launch their Chrome OS, and we have already read news about the new Cr-48 Chrome notebook. Well we can’t deny that cloud-computing has tremendous advantages, but thinking  a little bit about it, I have made a list of all obstacles that stand on the way. Google should work hard to remove these obstacles before developing more the cloud:

1- Internet coverage: Not every spot on earth has access to internet. So you can’t have your data everywhere! Covering the whole earth with internet is the first obstacle to defeat.

2- Internet speed: In Europe and US internet speed can reach tens of megabytes per second, while in Africa it is about some kilobytes per second if you are so lucky. And even in developed country, sometimes the speed varies for many reasons (bad weather, technical problems, manifestations etc…) Stabilizing the internet speed against all factors and everywhere should be the second obstacle to defeat.

3- Account recovery: It is so scary the fact that you loose all of your digital life just by loosing your Google account. I asked myself a lot of time why there is no authority that assign internet accounts (facebook, mail, twitter…) with real physical identifiable persons, so if any of your accounts is hacked, you can go with your real ID or SSN to that authority and have your account back, no matter how the hacker hijacked your account.

4- Security and privacy education: Most of internet users can be hacked easily, especially using social engineering methods. This fact is already dangerous with E-mails and facebook accounts. Its danger will be greater with cloud computing, where EVERYTHING and every bit of data will be reachable.

Feel free to add any obstacle I have not mentioned as comment.

© Assaad Mouawad 2010

  1. allanchao says:

    I agree with these obstacles that you mention. Three more that I would include are data ownership, data reliability, and security from organizations (as an extension of security and privacy education).

    5 – Data ownership: Who is the owner of the information that is stored in the cloud, you or the host? Obviously copyright content, such as email and photo albums, is owned by the creator, but it can get much blurrier than that. Who owns your facebook statuses? Who owns the information about who your facebook friends are? Who owns the items that you purchased for farmville? And for any data that you believe you are the owner of, how difficult would it be to extract it from the source? Let’s say wordpress changes their privacy policy such that you cannot continue to use the service. If you choose to replace wordpress with blogger, does that mean you permanently lose your posts, your comments, and so forth? Blog posts are one thing, but in Google’s ideal vision, this applies to all of your technical data, including resumes, financial files, medical files? What will you do when everything you have is stored by Google, and then Google becomes evil?

    6 – Data Reliability: However rare, using a cloud service means you must trust the host to protect it. There have been many cases of unintentional cloud-based data loss and intentional cloud-based data deletion. Just look up “Google deleted my account without warning”. Data loss is neither limited to the careless nor the individual. Just look up Journalspace, a service that shut down after all of its user data was lost. How would you personally be affected if Facebook irrecoverably lost all of their data, including all of your photos? However rare, things like this happen. With traditional computer media, each person is responsible for their own data backup and reliability. With cloud, you put a lot of faith into the protective measures of the host.

    7 – Unfortunately, intolerance exists in society. As shown in China’s cyber attacks on Google’s infrastructure in order to gain access to the accounts of political figures, keeping things in the cloud means keeping things in the internet, which is always accessible. With cloud-based services, there is no essential privacy – governments can subpoena, hackers can infiltrate, and law enforcement can wiretap. People may think that they have nothing worth protecting, but history has shown that privacy is ignored until it’s already been lost.

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