Newsletter #494 Preview: Can We Really Trust the Cloud?

May 17th, 2009

Some tech writers have been telling us that we’re all moving towards cloud-based services. Not just email and the Web, but productivity apps, such as a word processor and spreadsheet, will soon all be hosted by massive server farms around the world. Instead of installing this stuff on your Mac and PC, you’ll just access the interface in your favorite browser.

Indeed, this state of affairs, should it come to pass, will mean the virtual (literally) end of the operating system wars, since it won’t matter. Issues of the Mac versus the PC versus Linux will prove irrelevant. Whatever you want you get, because any current browser will be able to access the services you want. Even better, in this environment you won’t even need to travel with your own computer. The hotel could leave one in your room, next to the TV, and you’d just login and do your work.

Right now, though, it seems that such dreams — assuming that’s what they are of course — are far from being fulfilled. In recent days, for example, Google, one of the guiding lights in the migration to cloud computing, suffered another of its periodic outages recently. Although the problem supposedly originated in Asia, soon Google users from around the world were unable to access their Gmail and other services for a period of up to several hours.

Amazon’s S3 service, another pioneer in online access, has also suffered from occasional hiccoughs, and you all remember the rough, ragged rollout of MobileMe, Apple’s successor to .Mac. For days and weeks on end, getting your .Mac mail was an uncertain process, and a small number of messages stored online may have been lost as Apple struggled to straighten this mess out.

Story continued in this week’s Tech Night Owl Newsletter.

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