“Why Cloud Computing Still Doesn’t Work and How Google Will Fix it”…01.27.09

27 01 2009

A post today on Wired Blog network Why Cloud Computing Still Doesnt Work and How Google Will Fix it  from Charlie Sorrel is worth a read:

The promise of cloud computing is a good one — all your gadgets can be used to access all your information, all the time. Your iPhone can call up just the same files and music as your desktop machine at home. You can go on the road with a laptop and just pull down your data from the internet. And that same data, your precious data, is secure, backed up in the ether and resistant to both disaster and your own negligence alike.

The reality is far from this… 

The main problem is ubiquity. By definition, your most important files are the ones you need with you at all times, or at least at any time. But what if the internet connection is down? How do you get the spreadsheet from Google docs, or refer to the map in that email when you are offline?

The standard scenario is that you have your connection chopped of when you’re on a plane, although I actually like the relaxing offline time of a plane ride. This is a problem, but in truth you are cut off whenever you are away from home or office.

What about 3G modems? Well, they work for small data, but the networks are still too slow for shifting big files like music, photos or movies and when you get outside the Big City and its 3G coverage, you may as well be on dial-up. And war-driving for Wi-Fi is no way for the professional to work.

So, say we solved the network problem. You have a netbook with a day-long battery life and a guaranteed, 24/7 connection that’s fast enough to stream HD video. We’ll dream a little here and pretend that it is also cheap and has no crazy bandwidth caps. Would this work?

Maybe, but I think most people still like to have their data with them, where they can ‘touch’ it. The cloud is nice as a backup, but if it’s the only copy of your data, it’s a little worrying not to have your own local one.

Enter Google’s GDrive, which is being rumored for launch soon. The idea seems to be that you upload all of your data to Google’s servers and then use that instead of a hard-drive. This seems stupid.

More likely is that you mirror your computer’s drive at Google and then changes are seamlessly copied across your various devices and the web as you make them. This keeps every gadget up to date but also means you can grab files while in an internet cafe without your own machine.

Sounds dumb? There are already services that do this. I have my MacBook Pro and my hackintosh partially synced via DropBox, and I can also get those files on my iPod Touch via the internet. the problem is that I only get 2GB free, and if I pay, I can still only get 50GB. Remember how, before Gmail, you counted webmail storage space in the megabytes?

I have a feeling GDrive will do the same for web storage. All your info, everywhere, all the time. Think of it as IMAP for everything. It’ll happen, and when it does, our portable gadgets will become truly useful.”

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