Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Zakia Bouachraoui, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: @CloudExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

Is Cloud Computing the Wave of the Future?

Or should we stick to the devil we know?

Patrick Kiger's Science Channel Blog

Is Web-based cloud computing the wave of the future, or should we stick to the devil we know? The big player in cloud computing is Google, the online search, advertising, email, mapping and video behemoth, whose cumulative dominance of the Internet rivals Microsoft’s dominance in operating systems and applications software.
x

Hurricane … er, tropical storm Hanna probably was a bit of a disappointment to those of you who are extreme weather junkies, but storm-force winds or no, the brief downpour that we had in the Washington, D.C., area managed to knock out my little corner of the electrical grid. So I’m been compelled to camp out in the coffee shop of a nearby Borders bookstore and contend for one of the precious few three-prong outlets that are available for recharging the laptops and cell phones of the uprooted, information-starved horde. But enough of one man’s lament. Let’s turn instead to a more universal — or nearly so — problem: Microsoft Windows.

Believe it or not, there is a logical thread here, because Windows has a lot in common with the weather. Like the latter, everybody complains about the most kludgy, temperamental and ubiquitous of operating systems, while knowing full well that there’s nothing we can do about it. As I’ve written about previously, those woes have been exacerbated by the coming of the dreaded Windows Vista, with its annoying habit of continually asking permission to perform functions, its demands that we download new drivers for peripherals, and its capricious-at-best compatibility with software that doesn’t have “Microsoft” on the label. OK, so we could join the fringe that has defected to the Mac OS, but that would mean overcoming our aversion to expensive, unnaturally white computers, buying all new software and possibly even getting WWSJD (“What Would Steve Jobs Do?”) vanity license plates.

But now, there’s another possibility, a tantalizing vision of a future in which Windows — or the Mac OS — might no longer matter. A world in which we not only won’t have to worry about whether our software is compatible with our OS, but in which we won’t ever have to install any software again, period. A world in which we’ll be able to do just about everything we need, from updating a spreadsheet to editing digital photos, inside the borders of a platform-agnostic browser. I’m talking about cloud computing, in which software will actually run on distant Internet servers, rather than our PCs.

A harbinger: The big player in cloud computing is Google, the online search, advertising, email, mapping and video behemoth, whose cumulative dominance of the Internet rivals Microsoft’s dominance in operating systems and applications software. In 2006, Google introduced Google Apps, a service that offers a Web-based word processor, a spreadsheet program and other applications meant to challenge Microsoft Office. To go with them, it recently unveiled Google Chrome, an open-source alternative to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser. As InformationWeek writer Mitch Wagner explains:

Google wanted to build a new browser from scratch, designed specifically to be used with the new generation of Web applications. Many of those applications are, of course, Google's own: Gmail, Google Docs, Google Reader, and more. Google designed the browser to be lightweight, fast, have a minimalist user interface, and to resist crashing under the heavy JavaScript demands of Web applications.

As PC World reviewer Nick Mediati notes:

Chrome's design bridges the gap between desktop and so-called "cloud computing." At the touch of a button, Chrome lets you make a desktop, Start menu, or QuickLaunch shortcut to any Web page or Web application, blurring the line between what's online and what's inside your PC. For example, I created a desktop shortcut for Google Maps. When you create a shortcut for a Web application, Chrome strips away all of the toolbars and tabs from the window, leaving you with something that feels much more like a desktop application than like a Web application or page.

One doesn’t have to consult www.nostradamusonline.com to see where this all could well lead. The beta release of Chrome, oddly, is only Windows-compatible; a Mac OS version reportedly is in the works — as is, more significantly, a version of Chrome for the free, open-source Linux OS. Envision a future in which your basic PC costs about as much as a bottle of Jägermeister and is even easier to use, a world in which you’ll never have to hear these sounds ever again.

But there’s a potential downside, as usual. If we all eventually tell Microsoft to stick it and turn to the Internet and Google as our operating system and our apps, are we only getting ourselves into the sort of situation that Pete Townsend might describe as “here’s to the new boss/same as the old boss”? It would make Google the most powerful company on Earth (if it isn’t already). A lot of critics already are worrying about Google’s ability to track and analyze what you do on the Web, and the uses to which it might put that information. (Here’s a 2007 study by the watchdog group Privacy International that is decidedly uncomplimentary.) And they were even less thrilled with the wording of Chrome’s end-user agreement, which, as Computerworld notes, originally contained

"a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through" the new browser.

Google subsequently deleted that clause, but you’ve got to wonder what they had in mind when they put it in.

So, what do you think? Is Web-based cloud computing the wave of the future, or should we stick to the devil we know? Express your opinion here.

[This article appeared first here is is republished with the kind permission of the author. Copyright remains with the author and Science Channel.]

More Stories By Patrick J Kiger

Patrick J Kiger blogs at the Science Channel. He has written for GQ, Mother Jones, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, and other print publications, in addition to being a longtime contributor to the Discovery Channel, Discovery Times and TLC on the Web. One of his articles made the 2004 Best Writing of the Year list at www.rockcritics.com. He also is the co-author, with Martin J. Smith, of Poplorica: A Popular History of the Fads, Mavericks, Inventions, and Lore that Shaped Modern America (Harper Resource, 2004), and OOPS! 20 Life Lessons from the Fiascos that Shaped America (Collins, 2006). He has been interviewed on Fox News and National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation" program. You can check out more of his work at www.patrickjkiger.com.

Comments (2)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...
@CloudEXPO and @ExpoDX, two of the most influential technology events in the world, have hosted hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors since our launch 10 years ago. @CloudEXPO and @ExpoDX New York and Silicon Valley provide a full year of face-to-face marketing opportunities for your company. Each sponsorship and exhibit package comes with pre and post-show marketing programs. By sponsoring and exhibiting in New York and Silicon Valley, you reach a full complement of decision makers and buyers in ...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessio...
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
Rodrigo Coutinho is part of OutSystems' founders' team and currently the Head of Product Design. He provides a cross-functional role where he supports Product Management in defining the positioning and direction of the Agile Platform, while at the same time promoting model-based development and new techniques to deliver applications in the cloud.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settl...
There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
LogRocket helps product teams develop better experiences for users by recording videos of user sessions with logs and network data. It identifies UX problems and reveals the root cause of every bug. LogRocket presents impactful errors on a website, and how to reproduce it. With LogRocket, users can replay problems.
Data Theorem is a leading provider of modern application security. Its core mission is to analyze and secure any modern application anytime, anywhere. The Data Theorem Analyzer Engine continuously scans APIs and mobile applications in search of security flaws and data privacy gaps. Data Theorem products help organizations build safer applications that maximize data security and brand protection. The company has detected more than 300 million application eavesdropping incidents and currently secu...