Notes from the 6th Internet, Law and Politics Conference: Cloud Computing: Law and Politics in the Cloud, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 7th and 8th, 2010. More notes on this event: idp2010.
Myths and Realities of Cloud Computing
Pau Garcia-Milà, EyeOS co-founder
What media says that cloud computing is:
- We do not need to install anything;
- we do not to perform any backups, including software;
- we have no more storage limitations, adding more storage room is quick and easy;
- ubiquity, all services are available from anywhere.
Some problems with cloud computing that media repeat over time:
- Closed applications that are difficult to expand or modify: you cannot change (add features, customize, etc.) Google Documents easily
- Availability outsourced: to access a single Google Document we rely on our PC, our web browser, our Internet provider, Google, the government regulation (e.g. you depend on the Chinese government to allow Google to operate in China), etc.
But, where are our data? Where is our privacy? Most of our data/privacy is on Google, Microsoft and Amazon, the later the biggest provider of cloud platforms.
Indeed, some service providers cannot only access our data, but do have control over our devices:
- What happened with Amazon’s Kindle and the novel “1984″ affair: erased a novel from all books, got sued (and lost), but doubled their sales of Kindles.
- Facebook will retain ownership of your photos: huge claims for intellectual property and privacy, but Facebook users in Spain almost tripled during the “scandal”.
- The case of the accountability service that showed that no one reads the terms of service.
All in all: people do not read the terms of service and accept whatever terms. But the thing is that most service providers require this free access to data to be able to let data to third parties, the basis of the business plan.
Open Cloud Computing / Open Cloud Compliant: the services are in the cloud, but the user can choose where the data will be stored. At least, this allows for the user to know where their data are. It also avoids conflicts of interest: the one that provides the service is not the same that provides the infrastructure: the service provider will ensure that data are safe, and the infrastructures provider will ensure that the infrastructure supports the service.
We should then differentiate between infrastructure cloud computing and services cloud computing. Open cloud computing means that these are separate and there’s a possibility of choice, and closed means that they all come together with a single provider: in this case, privacy risks arise.
The average user prefers ‘easy’ to ‘nice’, even if ‘easy’ means ‘ugly’. This creates de facto standards. People prefer applications to be fast and easy, even if it is less powerful or less nice.
eyeOS is an open-source browser based web desktop, which means that it acts as a framework that, once the user is logged in, logs the user to whatever application runs on this desktop. Thus, the user does not need to remember where the applications are (what third parties’ services) and how to log in them.
(NOTE: here comes an interesting discussion about institutional and individual uses of open cloud services, the free software community, etc.)
- ¿Dónde está nuestra privacidad?, by Karma Peiró
- Mites i realitats sobre el cloud computing, by Joan-Baptista Gavaldà i Moran
- Open Cloud Manifesto.
This post originally published at ICT4D Blog as 6th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (II). Pau Garcia-Milà: Myths and Realities of Cloud Computing