The Wrong Cloud?

April 23, 2009 in Connected World

I was at the RSA conference this week (the largest meeting of the minds in the security industry) and was taken by one of the opening segments of the conference. It was a cryptographer’s panel hosted by Ari Juels. What was notable (aside from the incredibly rich and stimulating dialogue) was that one of the cryptographers said he was excited about the cloud, another said he was bored with all the hype, and a third said it scared him very, very deeply. Now as a note these are some of the leading founders and luminaries in the field of information security.

Their views echoed our own in many ways and the conversation nudged me into wanting to share a little taste of our thinking on the subject of cloud computing. I will disclaim that the following white paper is an excerpt from one of MAYA’s forthcoming books about the economic impact, dangers, and wonderful potential (business and humanity-wise) of the coming pervasive computing age and given the fact that this is just a snippet you may end up feeling as if you’d like more context or as if you’re joining the conversation somewhere in the middle and for that I apologize. Stay tuned for further snippets and I promise that the book itself will be worth the wait!

Our white paper offers a different perspective on cloud computing.

In our opinion cloud computing, as currently described, is not that far off from the sort of thinking that drove the economic downturn. In effect both situations sound the same… we allowed radical experiments to be performed by gigantic, non-redundant entities. There is a place in the world for behemoths, but that is not where the most radical experimentation should be taking place.

Until we understand a domain of endeavor very, very well, we should insist on decentralized, massively-parallel venues for dubious experiments. In the information economy, it means net equality, information liquidity and radically distributed services (and that’s pretty much the opposite of “cloud computing” as described today).

While there is still hope for computing in the clouds, its hard not to wonder if short-term profits, a lack of architectural thinking about security and resilience, and long-term myopia aren’t leading us to the wrong ones.

The Wrong Cloud.pdf

We hope you enjoy it and welcome you to contact us for further insight into our work.

For more information about our vision, you may want to read this classic white paper by Harbor Research about the future of information.


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