A primer on cloud storage services

Here is a lengthy article, but if you are interested in cloud storage services, it is an excellent primer on the advantages and risks. Cloud services, in many ways, is no different than the old mainframe computing environment, gussied up with a snazzy interface. Here are my own thoughts on the topic.

  • Cloud computing is already the latest industry buzz phrase. If you thought "Web 2.0" was mostly baloney, strap on your kidney belts, because "cloud computing" or "cloud services" is going to be tacked on to every half-witted IT start-up for the next three years. Like all IT bubbles, 90% of these lame-brain services will fail.
  • If you are storing something valuable in the cloud, make sure it is backed up somewhere else, since the failure rate of these cloud businesses is going to be very high. We're already seeing these ventures fail, and by fail, I mean that if you are lucky, you get an email giving you a week to get your data off the cloud server. If you are unlucky, the cloud just stops working, and your data is gone forever.
  • What this means is that either the cloud can be part of a well-thought out disaster recovery plan, or it can be an integral part of your workflow, or both. But putting all of your trust in a third party with your data stored who knows where would be foolish. You still need local backups and backups that give you physical access to your own data. There is still nothing cheaper as a backup strategy than a portable hard drive, or a set of them.
  • The cloud works best when it is as close as possible to the users of the cloud. Netflix is a cloud-based service, and a major cost, if not the biggest cost that Netflix has is just hauling the video bits across the public Internet to customers. If Netflix mounted servers on modern, high performance, community-owned fiber networks, its transport costs would go down dramatically, and it could instantly deliver content in HD format instead of low-resolution SD format.
  • As more cloud services become available, the value of community-owned fiber networks will increase dramatically; cloud services will be relatively high margin compared to the old "triple play" model. The incumbents don't really have a strategy to provide high performing cloud services on their antiquated DSL and cable networks. Example one is the fight Comcast is picking with Netflix. Comcast is going to lose that one, because they are basically admitting their network can't handle what their customers want.

Community-owned broadband networks have a bright future and will be the engines of economic development if they can weather the collapse of the incumbents. The fight in North Carolina is, at core, a rearguard action by the cable companies to prevent that collapse by making competition illegal at the economic expense of the communities they purportedly serve.