Unless you are completely new to technology, you must have already read references to “the cloud” and cloud computing. At first this stuff looked a bit cloudy to me (snicker). It still does in some areas. I realize now that they don’t have everything totally ironed out. Anyhow, I have been looking into the benefits and draw backs to the cloud in relation to our infrastructure and if we should use it.
Here is the definition from Wikipedia on cloud computing. However, if you don’t want to read all of that, here is my “nutshell” definition. Cloud computing means putting all or a large majority of your company resources on someone else’s server(s). So you basically telecommute everything from the servers of your cloud provider. This includes everything from email, documents, to even source code
I like the idea of putting some things in the cloud, being project development tracking, documents, and especially emails. The reason for this is pretty simple. You don’t have to worry about your servers going down and slowing down development. You also don’t have to worry so much about corruption and loss. This is pretty important to me, especially in terms of time. I always dread having emails and contacts in outlook, buy a new computer and have to move everything over every time. It is a total pain and a time suck. Worse yet is a computer that takes a dump and dies. Then you might have lost a bunch of stuff. Well with the cloud you can just log on with your new computer and poof, your back! Same thing goes for project documents and things of that nature.
Also it is easier to update things such as docs in the cloud because when you are done they are instantly accessible by others with permission to them.
And last, when you go somewhere without your computer and the pudding hits the fan, you can just find a PC, log-in and get things fixed in a pinch.
The first and biggest is IP protection. It isn’t like a lot of the stuff in the cloud uses SSL or anything for logging in. So it isn’t terribly secure in my opinion. All it might take is an experienced hacker with a sniffer or snorter to really make a mess of things. Valve had their source code stolen off internal servers, so imagine how much easier it might be in a cloud format. (I would never put our code in the cloud, not that trusting, just saying)
Also it makes me a little nervous that my stuff is on someone else’s hardware. I realize that it is mirrored and all that. My concern is people at the company peaking at it. After all, Google just had a big incident (still going on actually) about China snooping around in their stuff. So basically they were snooping in Google’s cloud. So industrial espionage is a bit of a concern for me.
I haven’t personally looked at Amazon that much because it is still in beta, but I have looked into the other two. Currently I am drawn to Windows Azure because it is .NET based. Google’s AppEngine looks a little more difficult to deal with. One of the things that turns me off about Google’s is their lack of support for PHP and the fact that you have to program in Python. In Azure we could just use Visual Studio, C# and .NET (which is a giant advantage since we already know and use all of those things). However, I do think that Google has a better handle on the Internet than Microsoft does. Hmmmm, what to do, what to do...
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