Hey, you, get off of my cloud
My predecessor must have had his work cut out dragging these guys kicking and screaming into... well, not so much the 21st Century as perhaps into the early stages of the Industrial Revolution. I can tell it must have been difficult because he ended up buying Apple Mac Minis for all the staff. I imagine the decision-making process went along the lines of: “If I have to have a computer, make it so small, insignificant and barely usable that, with a bit of luck, it’ll get lost behind last month’s paperwork and a broken teasmaid.”
One of the office juniors, barely in his late 50s, tried very hard to make a feature of his computer by clearing as much junk away from his desk as possible. Just compare the result with what’s probably sitting on your work desk right now:
Even the super hi-tech LCD display is barely larger than the one on his mobile phone. Spotting computers in this place is like playing Spot The Ball in the Daily Mirror when Robert Maxwell and Roy Greenslade were in charge.
And yet, these guys keep almost no data on their hard disks. Instead, it’s all sitting online as messages and attachments in a complex folder structure within a free webmail account. The security stinks, of course, but nothing to upset the Information Commissioner, mind... And their persistence with a crappy (but cheap!) 4Mbps DSL service all but guarantees unreliability, but all the files they need are at their fingertips, whether at home, at work or on the road.
Who told them to do this? No one, apparently. My predecessor set them up with a free email account and they worked out the rest themselves. Basically, I’m sitting in what looks like the set of Fagin’s attic in David Lean’s Oliver Twist with two ancient technophobes who are prone to correcting word processing typos by applying Tipp-Ex to the screen... and yet who twigged basic cloud computing all by themselves.
So please enlighten me, apart from the clever programming stuff, what’s so ground-breaking and paradigm-shifting about the application of a shared data concept that a pair of old geezers have been using by default - by mistake, even - for yonks? I leave you with this, a photo of the office at lunchtime, portraying denial of service attack, old-school stylee:
Source: ITV Studios Home Entertainment
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling IT journalism, editorial training and digital publishing. He has now become so accustomed to working night shifts that he is considering joining Zabulon’s Dark Others. This would be cool if it wasn’t for the fact that he has also started going sparkly in daylight.
Re: The crucial difference..
I remember when we just called "Cloud Service" the internet.
The motto of cloud computing:
"Trust in God, but tie up your camel."
Great article. Funny because it's true. For me true cloud computing would be computing using the entire cloud as a seamless (amorphous, perhaps) entity. It seems like that's where some people are trying to go but being able to rent a couple of Virtual Machines doesn't really cut it for me. People were time-sharing computer resources back in the 60s and some of them were doing it across a WAN from the other side of the country. Maybe even the other side of the world for all I know.
What we have today is more accessible, more capable and more interconnected but it just doesn't feel like a quantum leap in technology. Just a marketing term :-/
And as for cloud storage - meh. That's just FTP and - perhaps - a clustered server on the other end.
Well yes. Much of cloud computing seems to be about getting us to part with lots of money to do what we've already been doing cheaply or for free. Or at the very least to turn a one-off payment into a "revenue stream". Store your stuff in "the cloud" by all means. But keep a local copy that can't suddenly vanish.
And fwiw note Google's killing of their free "Calendar Sync" programme, that lets me keep my diary on all my devices synced through the Google one "in the cloud".
Agreed - I am trying to work out what the *significant* difference is between a computer running ChromeOS, or using MS Office 365, and the dumb terminal connected to the local Council's mainframe I used whilst doing the prototype "Computer Studies" 'O'-level in 1978 or 79. (The step down to a hideous punched-card reader at university was such a shock I quit engineering for ever - well, that and preferring beer to books at that time ...)