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The Cloud Marches On…

A consistent meme lately has been ‘cloud computing’ or more specifically, how much trust users can have putting their data in the cloud.  We’ve reached a point where most users, particularly the early adopters who pervasively use cloud-based services have to consider the how much data they trust being out there.  Let me preface this post in saying, that I am VERY BULLISH on cloud computing.  I think it is the way of the present and will continue to be a very strong wave of future innovation on the web.  In fact, I think there will be even more cloud services developed where data that is traditionally kept “close to home” will be moved into the cloud and shared storage services.  Mobile services, like the iPhone, will drive a lot of this movement as will the netbook. This is not new thinking on my part, just the side of the debate regarding cloud services that I end up on.

So, why a post today?  Ma.gnolia experienced a severe data corruption issue and outage.  As of 3:50 pm EST, news of when the service would be back up (with or without the user data) was still a question mark (see the site’s note below).  I do not keep my bookmarks there but I do keep them at De.lic.ious.   But this news is the fourth story as of late that struck a cord with me and I decided to list them out for those that may have missed them.

1.  Google Shuttered Google Notebook and others – not sure how many people kept notes up there and they have a month to move the data but moving your notes and note-taking process must be aggravating or at least an efficiency hit.

2   Steve Rubel’s post about the Bloodbath in the Clouds – I really enjoy reading Steve’s stuff.  Also very thought-provoking.  If you haven’t read his post, he recommends heading to high ground.  (I do not, I just recommend being aware and using caution).

3.  Flickr deleting a user’s account and all of their data due to ‘content violation’.  Not sure if the user violated the terms or not but it sure seems that one should be able to pull their content back before it is vaporized, particularly when they paid for the service and aren’t even using the free version.  Imagine a non-cloud example, imagine if a dry cleaner realized you brought in one shirt that didn’t belong to you so they decide to not only not clean all the clothes your brought in, but throw them all in the garbage.

4.  Ma.gnolia outage – severe data corruption and outage today, strong possibility of people’s bookmarks are gone.

So here are four stories that would cause many to run for the hills regarding using cloud services.  However, I continue to think seriously about moving even further into the cloud.  Time and continued innovation will only continue to improve the services available.  And unfortunately a lot of the value will be developed on the backs of some mistakes, it often does.  But rest assurred, it will be mistakes that we all learn from.  But even more so the value of cloud computing will continue to excel based on feedback from the users, users like you and me who use these services in the early days and act as lead users on what can make them more viable.  One thing is for sure, cloud or not, redundancy is the only sure fire way to protect yourself as cloud services continue to mature.  Stowe has some thoughts here as well.

My view is cloud services need to establish clear policies on how they handle the security of the data and policy issues.  It needs to be done in a consistent manner.  What would also really help if the consistency cross service lines and there was a greater level of consistency across the cloud as well.

I have more to say regarding the the types of trust we place in cloud computing but will leave that for a follow-on post.  Til then…

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