I am not sold on the cloud in any way. Security being a major factor. Most engineering firms have a set way to transfer files and collaborate already, without the cloud. For all of us to just drop our ways and go to the cloud seems unlikely and I for one won't. Maybe it's a trust issue I have, but I like knowing how and where my data is stored and how it can be accessed...without the cloud.
Your points are well taken and in the cases where an individual makes the decision about what kind of computing paradigm, then yes, perhaps they might choose a traditional method because they want control over their data and applications. The reality is, however, that the cloud computing model is primarily being driven by upper management and IT groups who see real cost savings and scalability benefits as opposed to building out expensive data centers and then having to invest in the staff and resources to run them. The cloud model also has benefits for companies with dispersed groups all over the world due to the ease of IT administration and as you all noted, the ease of collaboration.
I once again have to argue that I don't think this is a passing fad. I will concede that the cloud model isn't a fit for every organization and for every type of application--hence the rise of what they're calling hybrid clouds which combine private data centers with what's universally considered cloud-based software. So maybe some of the hardcore engineering data management and CAD applications aren't the best fit as they stand today. But I wouldn't rule it out so quickly. As engineers, you know how quickly innovators can address a pain point.
Yes you're right! I should have included FTP. I've used that method for 15-20 years.
As you mention - it's not the most convenient, but works OK.
The Seagate GoFlex drive is "essentially" a personal / workgroup FTP device, but with a friendlier front-end software that works with any browser.
What's unique about gotomyPC is that you can also RUN PROGRAMS on your desktop computer remotely...it is as if you were sitting at your desk. This is actually closer to the CLOUD concept, since it does more than just allowing file transfer.
I'm old enough that I've used shared (Hazeltine) terminals on a single (VAX) minicomputer, then seen the explosion of PC computing, then the Internet with servers, then smartphones and tablets and now the new CLOUD paradigm wants to go back to the first step...but with the internet + wireless connections instead of wires to the "terminals". I see a few feeble advantages (centralized program management and file backup)...but fail to understand why the CLOUD is supposed to be the "next big thing".
If someone out there can lucidly explain the tangible benefits of "the CLOUD" - I'd love to hear it (I'm more open-minded than it might sound like)...but have not heard anything compelling to date.
Kevin, you are certainly correct about the other methods. BUt let us not forget the FTP sites. (File Transfer Protocol), which have been in use for several years. My one employer had such a site available and it was geat for passing large cad files to our group in China, and for sending huge balls of data home for analysis from the proving grounds. No, it was not super convenient, BUT it was both reliable and fairly secure. Beyond that, it was quite stable, which is a valuable property for data handling software to have.
I'm an early adopter and enthusiast of technology, yet I remain extremely skeptical of the massive amount of hype around the CLOUD COMPUTING buzzword. Most of the papers I've read about the benefits of the CLOUD are based on CLOUDY thinking! (pun intended). While I don't have a working crystal ball (and noone else does either), I believe there is a good chance that this big wave of CLOUD COMPUTING is indeed only a fad.
I have yet to see a clear, concise outline of the tangible benefits of the CLOUD paradigm. OK...so I understand that file sharing is easier - but there are many other (much simpler and safer) conventional ways to implement equivalent functionality:
Check out gotomyPC.com, and also the Seagate Goflex external hard drive.
The first item is software let's me access my work computer from home (or anywhere) get data and even run programs. I can access via any external device: smartphone, tablet, notebook, etc. Cost is $10/month (personal) or $20/month (business workgroup, up to 50 users).
The second item is primarily an external hard drive with its own internal server. It automates backing up my PC's, but also has a separate secure file area that can be accessed (via password) from ANYONE on the internet (including myself). Cost is $99 - ~$300 one-time fee depending on capacity.
Lastly, I believe that human nature is that we prefer to have personal control of our critical data and not out there in a fuzzy CLOUD, managed by someone else. The privacy and security concerns are real. Since computing power, storage capacity, and connection bandwidth has become huge, inexpensive and ubiquitous - why do we need to start putting all our data and even software programs on someone else's server ? I don't see the benefit, as long as easy access and data exchange can be supported (such as by the 2 examples above). OK...I see some benefits for smartphones and tablets where computing power is still limited....but that will decrease over time, and with programs like gotomyPC you can leverage your own desktop computer.
Overall, I see the huge storm of CLOUD hype as a push for the large IT companies of trying to extract more money from customers, since once you opt for THEIR cloud, you are "locked-in" to their system and pay THEM a subscription fee and also pay them for your app's in the CLOUD.
Beth, your articles are fine, the stuff you have to write about is work in process and subject to "cooks".
This cloud should work well for customized engineering, but it may have it's problems with NEW IDEAS that may well turn out to be valuable intellectual properties. Would this cloud be considered "publishng" in a legal sense? How about if it's a BIG cloud?
@WilliamK: While I think there will and have been issues of hacking around the cloud, I think it's short sighted to see this as a fad. This is a fundamental shift in how computing power is delivered and IT shops across every industry and really at every size are gearing up for making the shift, at least for some aspect of their computing infrastructure. In some ways, this is just a shift back to the old days of mainframe and terminal-based computing, albeit with the Internet as the connection mechanism. So yes, there is work to be done regarding security, but not enough work that will make this a passing fad (at least in my view).
@Tekochip: That is my understanding with Autodesk's approach, which they are touting as a different spin on all this. While simulation makes perfect sense to take advantage of the pay-as-you-go, scalability benefits of the cloud, PLM and CAD have been questionable because of the IP, bandwidth, security, etc. concerns you all have raised in this post. So Autodesk's take is keep the data management/workflow/respository where they've always been (behind the firewall) and put the collaboration/visualization/project management apps up in the cloud where the benefits of the cloud's easy accessibility have more impact.
The issue of bandwidth is certainly a good point to consider. And while small electrical circuit drawings are only a hundred K or so, a 3d rendered detail could be several Megs. Mow pass that through your smartphone. And if something can't wait, that is what an assistant is for, to copy things from the secure vault to the FTP site for the other party to grab it.
The problem with clouds is that they are just not very solid, and i all probability will never be very solid. And I am certain that data stored in a cloud will be hacked any day now, and that will be the start of some real excitement. Really, the entire cloud fad is ripe for some very unfortunate unintended consequences, which will probably look a lot like lost or corrupted data.
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