Cloud computing has become
one of the biggest technology-related buzzword terms to arise in the past few
years. So I watched with interest as Jon Titus posted his question: "Do you
trust cloud computing?" to the System & Product Design Engineering group.
In his post, Titus mentions that EMC, a manufacturer of computer-storage
equipment, ran a two-page ad in The Wall Street Journal that touts the
benefits of cloud computing for everything from home security to
enterprise-wide applications. But, given recent problems with the Stuxnet worm
in industrial controllers, WikiLeaks publications of supposedly secret
information, and continuing identity theft, Titus wonders if cloud computing
creates great security problems.
"I still like to have control over my information, ensure I know where it is, who can access it, and have it properly
backed up," Titus said.
While Titus may be reticent about cloud computing, some engineers
are decidedly on board with the concept, but with a good dose of skepticism, as
well. All of which suggests that cloud computing purveyors still face something
of an uphill battle with the engineering crowd.
"I trust cloud computing to be
a real source of continuing revenue for the service providers," said Pat Ford,
realtime software engineer at Canada's National Research Council. "From what I
see, no longer will you buy software, but rather a subscription to use the
software for a given amount of time. So Microsoft, for example, will be able to
force upgrades on you, and you are at their mercy. No longer will you be able
to continue to use Windows 95 because it does everything you want, you will be
forced to pay more. I don't really see any advantage
the consumer, only the provider. I know I'm likely being cynical but I don't
trust faceless corporations, they have a legal obligation to maximize their own
Jim Donelson, senior software
developer at iS3, noted that his view of cloud computing varies depending on
what sort of information is to be stored there. "As far as backups go,
considering most organizations don't do this well, it (cloud computing) is
probably more reliable," he said. "As for â€˜hackability,' it is much more likely
that a reputable hosting service will keep up to date with security updates,
patches and practices."
When it comes to choosing
between the cost of maintaining your own server farm versus renting it from a
cloud computing provider, that's where the rubber hits the road for Donelson.
"The real cost savings comes in when you understand that you only need to rent
the capacity you need at the moment," he said. "You only pay for the amount of
service you actually use. The alternative is to set up a system that can handle
peak loads and then have it sit idle much of the time, which is very costly."