Although the concept of cloud computing first gained traction in 1996, the actual design developed in 1994, and the precursors to computing as a service rather than as a product were designed as early as the 1950s. Today, cloud vendors are enjoying growth rates exceeding 50% annually. Cloud computing has become a success. It is used by both the largest businesses as well as private individuals.
As cloud providers range from dedicated data centers to giants such as Microsoft and Amazon, users should consider the benefits and risks of a single worldwide cloud. Although many find the idea of one-stop shopping attractive, others examine both sides of the issue to see if a unified cloud would be an overall gain or loss.
My Cloud Is Bigger Than Yours
A key to understanding the pros and cons of a unified cloud is to understand how to determine the size of the cloud. When asked, “How big is the cloud?” many look up to the sky as they formulate their answer. Obviously, cloud marketing has made a significant impact. The name “cloud” has certainly spurred the imagination more than the more accurate “data center”. It almost gives the impression that the cloud is an omniscient being that permeates our environment.
In reality, the cloud is limited by data server hardware. Like all servers, it serves two purposes: to store data and to compute. Just like a personal computer, the capacity for data storage lies in the memory hardware, and the speed and power of remote computing lies in the size and speed of the processors. Although the cloud may seem to be everywhere, (and thanks to the internet, any cloud can appear to function anywhere), it is actually in a set of physical locations. This fact is essential to understanding the benefits of a worldwide cloud.
Why Support a Worldwide Cloud
A controversial issue is whether a shopper should frequent Walmart, or support the local mom-and-pop stores. The issues are similar for supporting a unified cloud as opposed to a set of cloud providers. The unified cloud enjoys economies of scale, meaning that a bigger operation can generally offer a less expensive solution. Other benefits include:
- Standardized access – any company interfacing with the cloud must implement an interface with the cloud provider. The cost and effort of this implementation generally make companies choose a single provider. Similarly, home users who have navigated the cloud learning curve are happy to stick with whichever provider first caught their attention.
- Uniform quality – comparison shopping for clothes may be fun, but most do not get the same kick from choosing cloud providers.
- A solution for everyone – granted, a corporation will likely tend to choose a different provider than a private individual, but once again, who enjoys shopping for a provider? A unified cloud means no shopping, no research, and no choosing.
- Easy to regulate – few like the idea of government control, but try driving in New York City without stoplights. A single cloud can be regulated as are other public utilities.
Down With the Illuminati
Many are concerned with the possibility of a One World Order, and do not appreciate the idea of a unified cloud. In business terms, a unified cloud would be a data center monopoly, with all of the problems a monopoly poses. These can include:
- Potentially higher prices – although a monopoly often enjoys lower costs, the company has no market forces to keep prices competitive.
- Potentially lower quality – although a monopoly will have the resources and the centrality to design a stringent quality control program, it may once again not have the competition to force it to do so. As the slogan from the rental car agency espouses, there is no “number two trying harder.”
- Loss of custom solutions – what happens when one cloud size does not fit all? A tendency of large corporations is to focus customer solutions on the largest, most profitable target segments. The insurance industry is a prime example of this situation. Cloud users with exotic requirements may find themselves with no solution.
- Potentially lower reliability – In 2013, the Microsoft cloud known as Azure, experienced a global crash. This had a significant impact on Azure customers. The effect would have been magnified had Azure been the unified cloud solution.
- Potentially lower security – also in 2013, Amazon experienced the Smart Search virus. This is only one of many attacks on Amazon servers. Distributed data centers lessen the effect of a security compromise on any single center.
What Would It Take to Make a Worldwide Cloud?
It is unlikely that the market will produce a unified cloud. Monopolies generally result from either a huge barrier to entry (anyone care to fund the next Walmart?) or intervention by the government. Arguably, it is unlikely that the government will step in when private providers are serving the public need.
In addition, there is a relatively low barrier to change. It is easy for an individual to move their data from one cloud provider to another. This is especially true because providers catering to individuals simplified the cloud interface to win the most customers. Businesses that have made the investment to implement a cloud pipeline would think twice before making a change, but could still do so if their provider stopped meeting requirements.
For this reason, a worldwide cloud may be an interesting idea, and certainly a fun topic for conspiracy theorists, but it is unlikely to ever see the light of day.
Get the Cloud That Is Just Right
A modern Goldilocks may choose to bypass the porridge and head straight to the Wi-Fi in the cottage of the three bears. She might find that Papa Bear’s cloud storage is designed for advanced business solutions, and is much more complicated and expensive than she needs. On the other hand, Mama Bear’s cloud may be too small to even save off a single video. Goldilocks may find that Teenage Bear (because teenagers always seem to have the best handle on technology) has just the right balance of capacity and cost.
Regardless of your requirements for cloud computing, we at Hanei Marketing are ready to help. Cloud computing is a specialty for us. Contact us today to discover the perfect cloud solution for your needs.
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