Cloud computing pros and cons

I’ve already penned down thoughts on the potential and pitfalls of cloud computing, as it exists and is understood today, for ICT4Peace:

… we will all end up storing more and more of our lives online. But until such time this is possible and prevalent, local storage will still be hugely important and will only continue to grow in size – as our own digital content creation grows exponentially. Put the two together – higher density data storage on smaller media and higher speed connectivity over larger footprints, and you have the recipe for a communications architecture that can be leveraged for peacebuilding in any number of ways.

I have also delved upon the energy consumption of cloud computing and its environmental impact, including the potential for it to exacerbate resource based conflicts: 

… But let’s not forget that cloud computing will, by definition, increase the number of devices used to access the web and Internet. The information may be stored on the cloud, but access will always be local – so essentially you are talking about much more plastic hitting the environment (mobile devices / phones / laptops / palmtops / PDAs etc). I guess what I’d like projections on (if at all possible) is on the aggregation of information in datacentres versus the growth of these devices – will the former off-set the negative environmental impact of the former? Will they together have far more of a negative environmental footprint than positive? Will new manufacturing techniques and materials for the former help reduce their environmental footprint? And what about the majority of the world’s population that for the next few years, who will not have access to cloud computing infrastructure or the purchasing power to buy environmentally friendly computing equipment? A new environmental divide in the making?

In one of the best articles I’ve read recently that demystifies the term, Cloud Computing Isn’t for Everyone in the NY Times highlights the pros and cons relying on web services for content production, storage, dissemination and archival.

Cloud computing is the buzzword du jour. It promises to keep your data in a readily accessible swirl of loosely linked virtual servers rather than in the confines of a grid of connected computers. And that’s a great proposition for some. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies in particular could use the cloud to develop and deploy their products much faster than before. But companies thinking of implementing it across the board should be wary of several limitations that could severely impact their future success.

Cons: Security, Non-portability, Control, Technical Limitations, Performance

Pros: Cost effective, Speed, Flexibility

Read the article in full here.

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