The Future of Cloud Computing

Jesse Chen • December 28, 2010 4 min read


I was watching the livestream of Google's newly announced Chrome OS when I heard them announce that they have an application process for anybody to apply to try out their new OS in their CR-48 notebooks.  Within a minute of them announcing the beta program, I have already submitted my application to try one out.

Needless to say, approximately 15,000 notebooks have been shipped already (out of 60,000 total that Google plans on sending out) but I feel like my chances were nil.  So when Google Operating System was giving the opportunity to win a free Chrome OS notebook by posting a short essay about the future of cloud computing - I decided to do it since it was in my interests anyway.  The essay has been posted below for posterity, but edited and revised since original post on Google Operating System.

My take on the future of cloud computing#

The notion of "cloud computing" has been around since the 1960's but since the advent of the Google Chrome OS, this term has gained more significance as a major Internet company, Google, announced an operating system that would live solely on the "cloud", otherwise known as the Internet.  The idea that one can access their music, pictures, videos, and documents on any computer with an Internet connection is enticing.

Google has their own office suite for Documents called Google Docs.  Google has their own photo sharing and storage product, Picasa.  Google also owns YouTube, the largest video-sharing site in the world (Facebook is #2 and growing rapidly, however).  And soon enough, Google Music is rumored to come out soon where we can upload our own music and have it in the cloud so we can sync it with our Android devices and other mediums.  Their partnership with Verizon also enables the ability to connect to the Internet from almost anywhere in the United States.  Google has the whole package to enable cloud computing, and they know it.  They basically control the entire user experience from the moment they login to the Chrome OS with their Google account.  If they can get Chrome OS out successfully into the market, Google will be very powerful (similar to Apple in that aspect).

I find it particularly interesting that in the beginning of computer history, personal computers were more-so "terminals" to mainframes rather than power-hungry machines that can process work on it's own processor.  Now we see that Google is trying to push a new paradigm of computing, where once again, we are going back to the aspect of having a computer serve as a terminal - this time to the "cloud", or Internet.   How did it turn out like this?  Moore's Law played a huge role in allowing personal computers to be of an acceptable size (compared to back when computers used to be the size of a room!), and that allowed people to have their own personal computer that they can work on, rather than having to connect to a remote host.  Moore's Law allowed the computing power normally found in larger computers to be accessible through a much more compact device (see: computers in our phones now).

However, as the number of computer devices an average person carries increase, we begin to realize the problem with having so many computing devices.  The different manufacturers and other various proprietary formats, connectors, and extensions causes a huge pain that no one likes to deal with.  People now want the freedom to access their data anywhere and anytime, regardless of what medium they are accessing their data from.  The Internet allows that idea to be possible, and I believe that Google is pushing hard to have it become the new mainstream paradigm of computing.

I would like to say what Google is trying to push right now, with their Chrome OS, is the new paradigm of computing.  With the ability to have all your data, if not most, to be stored in the cloud, the convenience of being able to access your data through any device or medium is phenomenal.  It is right, however, to question whether one should put all their data in someone else's servers (Google), since the ToS can always change and the amount of trust needed that their data will not be tampered or accessed by unauthorized people.  Privacy is probably the biggest concern for this future of cloud computing, and it is something that has to be addressed before cloud computing can ever be mainstream.  Also, Richard Stallman has some words about cloud computing, he says that it is "worse than stupidity: it's a marketing hype campaign...Somebody is saying this is inevitable – and whenever you hear somebody saying that, it's very likely to be a set of businesses campaigning to make it true".

© 2021, Jesse Chen • 129489e