TECHNOLOGY: The risks of cloud computing

Vista News (email newsletter)
Vol. 2, # 56 – Jan 29, 2009 – Issue # 65
Venturing into the Cloud – A Little Bit at a Time
Editor’s Corner

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One frequently expressed suspicion of the cloud computing concept is that the companies offering these services are a little like schoolyard drug dealers. The first ones are free, but once they get you hooked (that is, once the cloud replaces desktop applications completely), then they’ll start charging you for the service and you’ll have to keep paying and paying and paying to use your computer productively.

Folks don’t like that idea. They know that technically, they don’t “own” the software they buy in a box or download from a vendor’s web site, but they feel comfortable in the knowledge that after they pay a one-time licensing fee, they can use that program for as long as they want without paying more – at least until they change operating systems or hardware. The notable exception is antivirus and other anti-malware programs, but the rationale there is that you aren’t paying a subscription fee for use of the program itself, but for the new definitions that it has to download on a regular basis.

Most of the individual computer users I’ve talked to about this say that even if the overall cost turns out to be lower, they want to pay for their software up front instead of via a monthly or annual subscription. They absolutely hate the idea that if they stop paying, their applications will stop working (or in the case of storage services, they might be locked out of their data). It’s similar to the way most people would prefer to buy a car rather than leasing it; they like that feeling that it’s theirs until they decide to get rid of it, that someone can’t just take it away from them (although I guess in the case of most car buyers today, that’s just an illusion because the vast majority of folks finance their vehicles rather than paying for them in full).

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That’s the essential concern. Switch from free to pay?

No, I think the concern is that the “service” — free or pay — just goes away taking your data with it. Kodak pictures is the ONLY one that I’ve adopted and I have been EXTREMELY carefull to keep a complete backup. But it’s still a concern.

And, what do you do when you can’t get a network connect at a price you can afford?

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