Last week, The Economist printed a leader on ‘cloud computing’ and some issues related to it. First, explaining ‘cloud computing’:
“Cloud computing”—the delivery of computer services from vast warehouses of shared machines—enables companies and individuals to cut costs by handing over the running of their e-mail, customer databases or accounting software to someone else, and then accessing it over the internet.
Cloud computing is a threat to the new-won openness from licenced software:
At the time, selling software to large companies was sometimes likened to drug dealing, because once a firm installed a piece of software, it had to pay a stream of licence fees for upgrades, security patches and technical support. Switching to a rival product was difficult and expensive. But with open-source software there was much less of a lock-in.
‘Cloud computing’ also threats to lock-in:
But customers risk losing control once again, in particular over their data, as they migrate into the cloud. Moving from one service provider to another could be even more difficult than switching between software packages in the old days. For a foretaste of this problem, try moving your MySpace profile to Facebook without manually retyping everything.
Luckily, I don’t have a profile with neither. I wonder what Weinberger has to say about this. (Not very much, it seems, but on his blog Everything is Miscellaneous he reports from a seminar on cloud computing; I couldn’t get the permanent link to work, but the entry comes up first if you search his blog for cloud computing).