North by Northeast: I'm not ready for a cloudy day yet
“North of Northeast” is a column that offers commentaries from a Canadian perspective. Google's invested millions in it. Apple's moving steadily towards it and Microsoft's Office isn't far behind.
Everywhere you turn, more and more companies are extolling the virtues of "the cloud." My colleague, Dennis Sellers just wrote an interesting piece where he quotes an unnamed executive as saying "Apple want's to eliminate the hard drive."
I am skeptical. But then again I live a fair portion of my life under a "cloudless" sky. We may do a lot of talking about how connected we are becoming, but for a very large percentage of us, reliable, high bandwidth access to the Internet is still just a dream. My own son, living just forty-five minutes outside of Toronto, surrounded by millions of people, is in a small rural pocket that still relies on dial-up.
Even here, on the remote tip of southwestern Nova Scotia I have 15MBPS Internet access, but with very poor access to EDGE, let alone 3G, as soon as I leave my home I'm back under a cloudless sky. And let's not forget the cost. Conventional broadband Internet access is still fairly reasonably priced and if there are caps they are tolerable, but as soon as you move to the wireless carriers, all bets are off, in terms of performance, capacity and especially cost.
The concept of a cloud-based computing future may be compelling, but at present it is hardly practical. Besides, I'm just old enough to want to "own" what I pay for. Be it software, music or videos, If I pay for it, I want a copy on MY media, in MY possession because, if you've ever stretched out on the grass on a warm summer day and looked up, you know what clouds do.
-- Gerry Curry