Clouds and The Distorted Notion of Direct Control

Wed, 27 Aug 2008 09:38:20 GMT
by pdp

I would like to share a few thoughts on the notion of being in direct control of your environment. This article is a continuation from my previous one and it aims to justify why nowadays individuals and organizations prefer to give away control in order to gain more agility. Needless to say, less control is often equal to less security.

Some of you who have been following the blog may be familiar with some of my other articles on the same topic. I've expressed many times my concerns about arriving concepts such as cloud computing, Web2.0, Applications on Demands, SaaS, etc. The more I was digging into them, the more aware I was of their advantages and disadvantages. And I saw the notion of using in the cloud technology as a moving factor for many business to come.

Cloud computing is an attractive and very intelligent concept and it makes total business sense. The idea is not very new but at the same time it is evolutionary. It is all about outsourcing whatever you can outsource. In today's flat world, all of your life is outsourced although you may not realize it. I highly recommend getting your hands on a book called "The World is Flat" for more insights. People have less control of their lives than they did 20 or even 10 years ago. Therefore, we are slaves, but slaves who have gained something for being enslaved. That something is agility.

Let's look at the following analogy. Did you know that you are more likely to die in a sports or a compact car than a mid-sized car? There are plenty of research papers to justify those claims but my purpose here is to argue that less control increases agility and reduces security. The faster you drive, the higher the chance of an incident happening. The faster you run, the higher the chance of injuring your legs. Let's put all that in context: The less control you have, the more agile you become. The faster you grow as an individual or organization, the more vulnerable you will feel.

Cloud computing is all about that. You can grow your empire on top of services. It is easy. It is fast. However, when you gain something you usually lose something else. Perhaps security? Although, it is unfair to say that cloud technology is less secure. Using open source tools is a form of outsourcing. Typically, you won't build a homegrown Web server in order to host a website. You won't write your own operating system in order to do your work. You outsource that work from those that can do it and having trust in your local file system is as flawed logic as having trust in a remote service. Both are protected in their own way. Both are vulnerable to theft.

In summary, we cannot control everything. It is unreasonable to believe so. Perhaps we are more in control of our desires and thoughts but even they can be manipulated by interested parties (i.e. advertisers, government, etc.). If there is less control, there is less to lose when gaining agility. Therefore, individuals and organizations prefer to lose even more of what they have in order to gain something else that they do not have.