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Wozniak vs. the Cloud

Wozniak vs. the Cloud

If there’s one thing we humans like to do it’s polarize things. Maybe you’ve heard the old joke that there are two kinds of people in the world, the kind that divide the world into two kinds of people and the kind who don’t, but in reality, there’s only one kind of person. We all reduce things into opposing pairs. It’s part of how we deal with an increasingly complicated world. It’s the “Us vs. Them” phenomenon and it’s everywhere these days. We’re constantly trying to order things, to figure out what things we can relate to and what things we can’t.

I’m sure there are some great evolutionary benefits that come with seeing things in black and white, but I find that these days it usually just gets in the way. I could cite myriad examples from the current political scene, but here on MSPMentor, it seems more appropriate to use one from the world of IT.

You may have read about Steve Wozniak’s prediction about the future of cloud computing. If not, here’s the gist of it:

"I really worry about everything going to the cloud. I think it's going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years.

"With the cloud, you don't own anything. You already signed it away 'through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider that computer users must agree to.'

"I want to feel that I own thing. A lot of people feel, 'Oh, everything is really on my computer,' but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we're going to have control over it."
Here we have the co-founder of Apple painting in black and white. Look at his absolutist and emotional language: “everything going to the cloud,” “it’s going to be horrendous,” “you don’t own anything.”

This kind of language is designed to be antagonistic, to divide the issue into two camps: those who think the cloud is good and those who don’t.  Of course, that’s an impossible distinction to make. For one thing, putting “everything” on the cloud is a simplistic view of what the cloud is. People are using the cloud for so many other things than simple data storage. It seems every day there’s a new “WaaS” (that stands for “Whatever as a Service”) that redefines exactly how we use the cloud.

And then there’s the fact that the rush to the cloud isn’t as lemming-like as Wozniak suggests. Certainly, there has been a consistent move in that direction, but according to one report  “Half (49 percent) of Los Angeles area executives indicate cloud computing is currently part of their corporate infrastructure. One out of five (19 percent) plans to invest in cloud computing in 2012.”

Half is a lot, but it’s not everyone, and one out of five hardly a rush toward the cloud gates. Certainly, people are using it, and certainly more people will use it in the coming years, but for the most part, people aren’t stupid. For every startup that eagerly adopts the cloud as a way to cut costs and increase efficiency, there are established small or medium businesses that will take things slow.

And of course, cloud service providers approach things differently. Apple or Amazon may push for “everything” to go to the cloud, but when it comes to data storage, backup, and disaster recovery StorageCraft recommends a combination of local backups and offsite backups (which includes, but is not exclusive to the cloud), and until some major changes in the current infrastructure of the cloud occur, that’s not going to change.

None of this is to say Wozniak doesn’t have some valid concerns. Obviously our own stance is due in part to the potential for “horrible problems” in the cloud and it’s not difficult to assume a bit of hyperbole on his part. At the same time, it’s important that we resist the urge to reduce the value of new technologies to simple “good” or “bad,” “safe” or “dangerous.” Like those executives in Los Angeles, we need to look at our own business needs and figure out how these new technologies fit.

Matt Rayback is Marketing Content Writer at StorageCraft, which works closely with MSPs. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all of StorageCraft’s guest blogs here.
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