'Horrible Problems' May Be Rolling In With the Cloud
Aug 16, 2012 5:00 AM PT
Why does Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak think cloud-based computing will bring "horrible problems" over the next few years? Apple is one of many companies driving the cloud revolution with its iCloud. Sounds crazy, but to tell you the truth I think Woz is correct -- to a point.
My Pick of the Week is AT&T Wireless Home Phone, a new AT&T Mobility wireless service that lets it compete against Verizon and local phone companies.
Out of Control
The more we transfer everything to the cloud, the less control we will have over it, according to Wozniak. That's true -- and that's just one of many issues that must be resolved before we embrace the cloud.
Pull the camera back to get a good understanding. The cloud story is about the struggle -- the push and pull between yesterday and tomorrow.
Companies like Apple, Google, AT&T and Verizon are at the forefront of this struggle. In fact, there are many companies entering this cloud space, including networks, device makers and Web companies, not to mention pure cloud providers.
Over the next decade, the cloud will provide an enormous opportunity for growth, investment, employment and innovation. It will become huge. However, there is lots of ground that needs to cleared first.
What exactly is the cloud? That depends.
If you work for a company and store your information online, that's a cloud, and you've been using it for more than a decade.
Over the last few years, when you buy books using an Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, or Apple iPad they are also stored in the cloud. This is relatively new.
The next version is storing your personal information and data in the cloud instead of on your hard drive. That means storing info online instead of on devices like your computer, smartphone and tablet.
Just think of the cloud as the consumer version of what companies have been doing for years.
As an example, with Apple you can store your information on your devices -- like iPhones, iPads and MacBooks -- or you can store it in the Apple iCloud.
If stored on the devices, it is more secure -- but it is not sharable. If stored in the cloud, it is shareable, but not as secure. It's your choice.
When your info is in the cloud, you don't have to back it up. Your device may be lost, stolen or broken, and your data is always secure on the server. That's unless there is a server problem. Is it backed up? Some are. Some aren't.
There are actually many differences like this that should be considered.
Apple and other cloud operators want you to start storing your stuff online. This is a big opportunity for them. It builds brand loyalty and reduces the chance you will leave for a competitor.
Did you know that in the Terms of Agreement, many cloud companies say you give up ownership to what you upload to the cloud? That's right.
Some cloud providers, like Amazon, are adding language to the terms of agreement saying your data remains your data, but make sure you check before you click AGREED.
There are many areas of concern, but the cloud is the future. It's about saving your work, photos, email, music, movies and all sorts of data, online.
This gives you access to it from all your devices. As long as you have the password, you have access. Then again, anyone with the password would also have access to all your stuff. That's another problem. Security.
These issues are what Steve Wozniak is warning us about. Woz says the next five years could be a nightmare.
Sure, this is a new and huge opportunity for some companies that want to cash in with innovative security ideas:
- Lifelock could offer an enhanced warning and protection service.
- Symantec Norton, Eset and McAfee can expand their virus protection software to include the cloud.
- Carriers can juice up their protection as well and use it in their marketing.
- Security in the cloud is an entire new business opportunity that will explode with growth.
So why are we playing in this cloud business anyway, since it has all sorts of security dangers? This is the same question we asked about going on the Internet years ago. We adapted. We bought security software and antivirus protection and created loads of passwords.
The cloud is the biggest business opportunity we have seen in a long time. The benefits to customers are that they can access all their stuff on any of their devices.
Early adopters are jumping into the cloud and storing all their stuff online. They will deal with the initial few years of problems.
Unfortunately, we live in a world full of bad guys looking to break in and steal our stuff. This is a whole new adventure and opportunity for them as well.
Into the Future
Over the next few years, we will get used to the idea of the cloud. We will use it more and more. Security will improve after some of these disasters Woz warns about.
Next we'll be signed up with various clouds. Then as we get overwhelmed with clouds, we will join one master cloud and store everything there. It will make our lives easier.
Look at how AT&T and Verizon have just entered the cloud space with AT&T Mobile Share Plan and Verizon Share Everything Plan.
You can get your own personal cloud being managed by these companies, and you can connect all your different devices to it. In fact you can include up to 10 of your family's devices.
The purpose is to have one single cloud account instead of a separate account for each device. This makes sense. Expect this from other carriers as well.
The cloud may be the future, but we have a long way to go before we get there. Today, the early adopters will jump onto the cloud. They will deal with the good stuff and all the problems.
I would suggest that if you are going to use the cloud, start slow. Be very careful when signing up and using a cloud to store your stuff.
Don't store all your personal and confidential data yet. Get through the perilous next few years Woz is warning about before you risk all your valued information.
Let's work through the next several years, addressing and changing the way we think of the cloud, ownership of data, security, and all sorts of other new issues.
So, the bottom line is Woz is absolutely right. There are major storms building as the cloud moves in -- privacy, personal information and security problems. But like it or not, I do believe the cloud is the future.
Let's take this journey in the cloud one step at a time.
My Pick of the Week is AT&T Wireless Home Phone, a new AT&T Mobility wireless service.
AT&T lets you replace your home landline phone service with wireless service connected to your home.
The good news is this lets AT&T compete with companies like Verizon, CenturyLink, Windstream and Frontier to provide local phone service outside its home region.
It's a very innovative idea that lets AT&T enter new markets.
The bad news is this does not let landline AT&T customers switch away from their wireline service to the wireless service. But we're getting there.
I think it should, because AT&T and all local phone companies are losing landline business to competitors.
Self-cannibalization may sound crazy, but it would allow AT&T to keep some of the landline business it is losing every year to competitors. It would just be on the wireless side of the company.
Verizon has a similar offering, Verizon HomeFusion.
Sprint has two similar services. Its Cradle Point Router is similar to Verizon's, and its Sprint Phone Connect is similar to AT&T's.
This means that finally, after all these years, AT&T and Verizon will compete, head to head, with traditional landline phone service, powered wirelessly.
What will they think of next?