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Charles Babcock
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7 Dumb Cloud Computing Myths

You've heard the arguments: The cloud is not secure, costs too much, and wrecks the environment. Let us set you straight.
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It's no secret that new data centers are being built around the world to support mobile devices and cloud computing. Intel watched what markets its servers ship to and concluded that $450 billion a year was flowing into new data centers -- "one of the world's more significant capital investments," said Intel CEO Paul Otellini in October 2011.

That's a distressing development, according to an article in the New York Times Sept. 22 by James Glanz. The new data centers accelerate power consumption and lead to more carbon dioxide production and environmental degradation, Glanz wrote. InformationWeek, in response, pointed out that more computing is being done on less power, and that trend is not yet exhausted.

Furthermore, some of the computing -- say, when you're shopping on Amazon or planning a trip -- is done by moving bits around instead of moving 4,000-pound cars through cities to bricks-and-mortar stores or travel agencies. A full energy audit might find that cloud computing is more energy efficient than predecessor platforms, and many of its activities replace more material- and energy-consuming ones in the physical world.

Nevertheless, scientists may one day conclude that global warming is producing larger hurricanes on the East Coast and extended droughts in the Midwest. At that point it's possible to see government deciding global warming threatens society's survival and future use of cloud data centers must be rationed, whether that's the right decision or not.

I'm betting the electricity consumed per unit of computing will continue to decline and the productivity of work accomplished in the cloud will become a strong counter-argument to rationing. But this is an arms race that many data center architects and foot soldiers in enterprise data centers and cloud computing centers will have to win.

Image Credit: Flickr user Hythe Eye

RECOMMENDED READING:

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Cloud's Big Caveat: Runaway Costs

Cloud's Thorniest Question: Does It Pay Off?

Terremark Cloud Services Pass DOD Security Test

Will Dell Lead The x86 Data Center Market?

N.Y. Times Data Center Indictment Misses Big Picture

How The Feds Drive Cloud Innovation

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kramerk
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kramerk,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/19/2012 | 5:58:03 PM
re: 7 Dumb Cloud Computing Myths
Myth #7 "Nevertheless, scientists may one day conclude that global warming is producing larger hurricanes on the East Coast and extended droughts in the Midwest. At that point it's possible to see government deciding global warming threatens society's survival and future use of cloud data centers must be rationed, whether that's the right decision or not."

Um, a) I think about 99% of scientists would probably say that global warming is producing larger storms and greater droughts. Frustrating to see such articles geared toward a tech-savvy, fact-driven audience still presenting climate change as controversial (I'll cite Neil DeGrasse-Tyson, who, when asked if he believes in climate change, responds, "Do you believe in gravity?"). b) Not sure why the government would "ration" cloud data centers, seems more likely that taxes would increase on energy and businesses would have to decide whether it still made operational sense to use the cloud. Seems like an overly alarmist prediction!
Leo Regulus
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Leo Regulus,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/17/2012 | 6:29:04 PM
re: 7 Dumb Cloud Computing Myths
Unfortunate choice of article format. Sorry, I can't use it - which means that I don't see you advertisers either. Your Nickel.
goldspike
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goldspike,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/17/2012 | 6:10:16 PM
re: 7 Dumb Cloud Computing Myths
a great big scam perpetrated on the mentally challenged
Scritti Politti
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Scritti Politti,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/15/2012 | 9:53:31 AM
re: 7 Dumb Cloud Computing Myths
What a crock. Who is propagating these myths? No one. The problems with "the cloud" are real and undeniable. Local storage is more spacious, cheaper, faster, and physically smaller than ever. It's exactly the WRONG time to take all of your data and PAY to upload it to some third-party server, then PAY to get it back at crappy data rates while PAYING for the bandwidth and exhausting your data allowance.

Oh, and you can only get your data at the whim of that third party, and IF you have an Internet connection. So if you're lucky you MIGHT be able to get a bit of it on the plane. But not on that road trip through the mountains. Or the subway. Or in other countries, where you don't have a data plan. And on and on.

The people cheerleading for "the cloud" are shills or pathetically gullible.
Marvin Goodman
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Marvin Goodman,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/15/2012 | 4:41:38 AM
re: 7 Dumb Cloud Computing Myths
I believe that the perception of Cloud risk has driven positive behavior in end users, making their non-Cloud activities safer. How many of your friends outside of IT knew what a VPN was two years ago, or file encryption? Because folks are scaring them about files they're copying to the Cloud, users are practicing safer computing in general.
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/15/2012 | 1:07:47 AM
re: 7 Dumb Cloud Computing Myths
Critic makes a fair point below. My ARM vocabulary failed me. ARM is a processor, not an operating system, but the ARM processor cannot use the x86 instruction set. The operating system must be ported to ARM, as Ubuntu has been.Most x86 OSs have not. Charlie Babcock, InformationWeek
PLOM
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PLOM,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/14/2012 | 9:55:01 PM
re: 7 Dumb Cloud Computing Myths
A thought provoking list and analysis. Here's my tuppence worth:
The cloud is probably at least as secure, if not more secure than your remote/off-site data centre.
The VM spying issue is less of a concern than the inappropriate accessing of logs by physic server admins (at cloud, or your local farm - it's the people, stupid!).
The cost of the cloud services, like everything, is in the labour required to provide it (again - people).
Cloud shopping is more than just about price - find a service that suits, then negotiate price.
The choice of the OS will become less important (see previous comment) and diversity in OS will count for nothing in the longer term as energy costs will never be a long-term factor - see moore's law, and the comments about labour costs.
Open-source will eventually be monetised somehow - no such thing as a free lunch (there'll be ads in your data soup).
Cloud computing is eco-friendly, but online shopping is not - three trips by trucks to your house to delivery this weeks groceries vs the hybrid going to the mall - you can figure it out?
Great article, though - a new subscriber and enjoying what I see.
Dkramer3
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Dkramer3,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/14/2012 | 9:36:10 PM
re: 7 Dumb Cloud Computing Myths
Also what does on line shopping have to do with cloud computing? The scenario would be the same weather Amazon had it's servers in the cloud or on site.
smccown
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smccown,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/14/2012 | 9:14:32 PM
re: 7 Dumb Cloud Computing Myths
Actually, for myth #1, the cloud (like the internet) is *not* safe.

Many well-documented successful attacks have been carried out against PCI-compliant companies, the DOD, etc. For example:

1) Big-Box Breach: The Inside Story of Wal-MartGÇÖs Hacker Attack (http://www.wired.com/threatlev...

2) White House confirms cyberattack (http://www.politico.com/news/s...

Rather than giving companies a false sense of security, tell them that they are at risk, but that the cloud can be made "at least as safe as everything else"...
smccown
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smccown,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/14/2012 | 9:13:41 PM
re: 7 Dumb Cloud Computing Myths
Actually, for myth #1, the cloud (like the internet) is *not* safe.

Many well-documented successful attacks have been carried out against PCI-compliant companies, the DOD, etc. For example:

1) Big-Box Breach: The Inside Story of Wal-MartGÇÖs Hacker Attack (http://www.wired.com/threatlev...

2) White House confirms cyberattack (http://www.politico.com/news/s...

Rather than giving companies a false sense of security, tell them that they are at risk, but that the cloud can be made "at least as safe as everything else"...
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