Cloud Computing is Baaaad, mmmKayyy?
The tech press is full of people who want to tell you how completely awesome life is going to be when everything moves to "the cloud" – that is, when all your important storage, processing and other needs are handled by vast, professionally managed data-centres.
Here's something you won't see mentioned, though: the main attraction of the cloud to investors and entrepreneurs is the idea of making money from you, on a recurring, perpetual basis, for something you currently get for a flat rate or for free without having to give up the money or privacy that cloud companies hope to leverage into fortunes.
Now, Cory Doctorow is making the spot-on observation that cloud computing is a scheme to get money from your pocket into someone else's. I dislike it for this reason, but that's not the only one. I have long maintained that choosing SaaS is a major mistake for most companies. This is especially true for small companies that don't have the negotiating clout to legally safeguard their data. Nor is it a good choice for large companies. For medium-sized companies it questionable at best.
People, do not put your mission-critical data in someone else's hands. There are some things that "the cloud" is good for, but not when you realize that you can, in fact, do it yourself... more securely and cheaper. Most people don't even know that they have these capabilities available to them. And many don't, because they don't have the right tools. But they could.
Now, if I were in a Microsoft shop I might be worried that I can't provide these "cloudlike" services in-house economically. But I work in a Notes/Domino environment. You can use it for email, sure... but it also gives you a full messaging solution. It can provide your website, your forums, etc. Yet I repeatedly see companies deploy other "solutions" to handle the functions that they could do perfectly well with what they have, if they only knew it.
Need a wiki? Notes. Need a Teamroom? Notes. Need a document repository? Notes. Need instant messaging tightly integrated with email? Notes. SFA? Notes. Other Lotus products can extend your infrastructure beyond the basic capabilities, but for many small businesses, Notes and Domino are all you need. A Notes+Domino environment is ridiculously cheap for small businesses, and it will quickly repay the investment rather than constantly drain your finances, as will cloud computing.
Domino isn't the only way to do this... you can use a number of Open Source software packages if you can deal with complexity. Or you can cobble together Microsoft's offerings if you don't mind complexity AND expense. But Notes+Domino is really the simplest way to go for those who aren't technically inclined.
Folks, processing power is cheap: people have so much of it that they can afford to donate it to projects like SETI and ASTRA. Data storage is cheap: you can buy a terabyte for one Benjamin Franklin. Network connectivity is cheap: I get gobs of it with several hundred channels of cable television. The capabilities you need are cheap as we've discussed above. As a result of all this, the cloud vendors are selling you "solutions" to problems that don't really exist. Avoid, avoid, avoid.