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Clear to Cloudy - the CloudWhy we believe the Cloud* is more "Buzz than Word".
Nowadays it is clear to anyone, that the PC is no isolated system anymore, but with the internet, connected to a tremendous resource of information and software.
The world has changed its knowledge paradigm with internet and world wide web. Knowledge was not distributed (by print or software) anymore and researched at place, but could be collected from numerous servers in your own PC, anytime on request through search engines, that make the informations reachable for you.
The true success story of the sources has become true with broadband internet connections and platforms such as Wikipedia. Now everybody could contribute lexical knowledge for the community and the costs have become transparent.
Everything into the cloud?The cloud is the next step in the evolution: nothing has to be stored in the PC anymore, neither data storage nor programs (except of a browser, to connect to the net and get, what you need). I can outsource all functionality (applications for document editing) and my data (documents) trustfully into the cloud.
That is at least the idea of the software giants (Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc.), which offer us the cloud. As consumers we should feel pampered, because we do not need to think about technical details of backups etc. Everything, the applications and the data is in the cloud - anytime, any PC or mobile device (via internet) available for searching and editing. This lets the dream of work at any location become true. Nomadic people between home office and workplace, holiday home and on the run are much easier engaged to work towards their burnout - in the 24 hours working world.
This comfort ellapses a friable feeling. I should quit my data isolation? And throw my privacy towards a global company, that stores my data in any computer center at any place in the world, where whoever can get access (speak: hacks) into?
I would not claim that I own data of special interest, my life isn't that thrilling, but whenever I hear this "but I have nothing to hide" reasoning by society members that feel very safe, my alarm bells are set off. Private correspondence, return of tax, bank statements, customers requests, and much more do not belong into arbitrary hands. Why then give everything into the net, what belongs to myself?
Until recently, arguments about data safety and security have not been in advertising front of the cloud providers. They will be necessary to destroy concerns. Not surprisingly, nobody claims security to be towards 100 percent - because they can't - at least not if the low budget average customer wants to use the cloud for no or low cost. Nowadays money is made by the customized advertisements. Thats why data protection isn't written in big letters and customers are recommended to read the small print (most likely with a lawyer next to who could translate for you). It should not lead into a desaster as the case at Sony, where members of net games have most probably lost their credit card informations to criminal hackers.
No neglection of protection and safetyAny company or private people which have more concerns about protection and safety and would like to get net based data storage and services, can have these since the world wide web is established. Any well equipped local provider can provide the services with your own dedicated server, with exactly the capacities and software that customers need. If thats the case nobody speaks about the cloud, but the offer is not cloudy, concerning the data storage. The advantage of the system: the server belongs the customer, access is restricted to him and the maintenance is provided by computer center and their security equippment.
It's the way banks run their data centers. There it is not allowed that accounting statements of customers are transferred over the border, why should we do this then by using the cloud?
Data of no value for third partiesThere are areas that produce a lot of data, that on its own has not much value, because one has to understand the sources behind - e.g. in research, or for weather forecasts. It is comprehensible, that those institutions will likely put data into the cloud, since its less expensive than building or maintaining your own computer center.
And so there is value from the cloud, but its value seems to be for unpersonal, not self-valuable informations where security issues are moderate - since the data is of no value for third parties, they are not meaningful - they cannot be sold. The same would hold for cleverly encrypted data, it can be stored in the cloud and third parties will not know what it stands for. This is the way that e.g. Wuala follows, a small cloud provider.
The bigger the cloud of a provider, the more data and computing capacity will be behind, the more likely it is of interest for amitious hackers, to get access to that system. Especially free computing capacity is seeked by hackers with criminal energy, since they can misuse the capacity to run password-scanners or botnets to distribute viruses or spam.
The cloud for itself is nothing new. For many life situations offers exist for some time and have not been claimed as cloud earlier. Email service provider, webhosting and offers from Google services have been in the cloud from beginning. Any outsourced internet connection in a data network is sketched as a cloud, since the technical infrastructure is not known in detail, but one is connected to it.
xirrus has used clouds since its start to illustrate, but the connection to the data cloud is just a nice coincidence. Although we offer and apply the cloud since our foundation and develop and provide services for selected customers, we will not force this labeling. We prefer clear sky quality for our offers than a cloudy intransparent threat.
*Cloud is a not exactly specified data storage and service provision in the internet for its customers. It has been labeled such by bigger providers, and can be used as extended memory and or application service offer on demand.