Cloud Computing

What is Cloud Computing?

If you’re reading this from a PC, you’ve got a computer with an operating system and probably dozens to hundreds of applications that you use to do whatever it is you do with that PC.  Bringing up a web browser and reading blogs is just one of them.

If you want to write a letter, you’re going to probably bring up Microsoft’s Word and compose it.  Whatever it is you want to do, chances are it will require some application that you paid some company for.  An application that may from time to time require upgrading, and eventually you’ll have to pay for that.

Or, instead you could use what is called a thin client, this is just a program that allows you to connect to some remote computing facility and use your keyboard and monitor as if you were right there.  In our case, Eskimo North uses something called ‘NX’ to provide that functionality and we are also working on providing that capability to some other thin clients.

Using this, let’s say you wanted to write a letter, now your computer no longer has to be equipped, instead you’d connect to us with your NX thin client, go to Applications->Office->LibreOffice Writer, and compose your letter.  If you setup a printer, then you could print from that program on our server to your printer.  Alternatively, you could setup Google Cloud Print and print to a cloud printer.

With this situation, you no longer have to pay for a word processor, or upgrade it when it’s obsolete, or so any sort of hardware or software maintenance beyond what is necessary for your thin client to work and that is minimal.

An additional plus, you wouldn’t need to learn MacOS, Windows, and Linux OS’s and their applications as the interface and application would be identical no matter which platform you are working from.  Eventually we hope to expand this to any HTML5 compliant browser equipped device which will open it up to smart phones, tablets, etc.

A larger cloud computing provider would have a huge network of computers providing the service but it would be transparent to you.  Ours is still pretty small but we’re working on that.

There is an advantage to small.  A huge network of millions of inter-networked computers is also a huge network to properly secure.  When you put something on Amazon’s or Google’s clouds, who knows how many computers your data is spread across.  Hopefully they are all secure, and I hope the same for my network but it does seem like that job grows with the size of the network and it is frankly those concerns that have prevented me from offering some new services I would like to offer, I need to get the security issues nailed down first.

One thing we do differently here is that we don’t mine your data to target advertising to you or for any other purpose.  We view your data, you content, whether it be web, e-mail, files in your directory, as yours and respect that.  I hope this is a viable commercial model, a model for those who wish to have their privacy and the ownership of their content respected.  Only time will tell.  You all vote with your feet.  I just want to be clear that what I am building here is quite different from what others are building in that respect.  I always appreciate your feedback.

3 thoughts on “Cloud Computing

  1. You have good points.

    A big concern is let say a big cloud computing company are offering cloud services to business customers in the US.

    If that company has a vendor, let say a cloud computing company in India (or any other country) for backing up all their systems overseas.

    The question will always be; are “my data” still covered by US privacy laws on their vendor’s systems in India?

    And does the company in India have any 3rd party vendor for backing up their data?

    This is usually were complex policies comes to play in end-user agreements (which a lot of personal users don’t bother reading).

    I think we lose control of the data by using these solutions, even though these “unlimited data” packages are relatively cheap these days.

    That’s why I have invested in my own NAS, and in addition I can copy a backup of my data to my friends NAS and wise versa with rsync.

    At least this gives me control of my own data and I know all of it is encrypted and unreadable by my friend.

    This do require a bit more knowledge than the average end-user, but devices from QNAP and Synology has pretty straight forward GUIs with good documentation.

    Cloud computing is indeed very important at presence and in the future as most of our personal stuff and memorise (video, photos, documents and so on) are being uploaded to the cloud and synchronized between all sorts of devices.

    Privacy is surely a concern here as well as support.

    To many companies out there offering web hotels with “unlimited” data-plans, VPSs and cloud computing, but you never know until it breaks.

  2. It’s not just a matter of official policies, it’s a matter of everything being sufficiently secure that the policies as written are enforced as written.

    With the really big clouds, like Google’s for example, you’ve got data spread across continents. How strong is the encryption of that data as it crosses continents, and might Google or some other large provider be forced to turn over customer data to hostile governments abroad?

    With Google, a further concern is that they are heavily into data mining and how much of that customer data is going to be mined?

    I had a friend who demonstrated how on one major telecommunications provider’s network, almost all the Cisco routers still had the default passwords and listened to connections on every port, and a command existed that allowed you to clone data destined for a location and send it to third location which allowed you to turn basically any router into a wiretap.

    Now add a bunch of cloud data transversing that network and it seems like a recipe for disaster.

    If the encryption is reasonably strong, still might the resources of a large cloud be co-opted to break it? Throw enough computer power at any conventional encryption scheme and eventually the keys can be found.

  3. Yes, as a matter of fact, businesses will need to rethink the way they structure their operations. They will have to decide what data they want to save to the cloud and what they want to keep on their servers.There will be more of a need for IT consultants to become cloud consultants. Stay tuned for more information on this topic.

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