Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Google OS, Cloud Storage: Spiffy

"The Death of the Hard Drive"
Jeremy A. Kaplan, (December 9, 2010)

"Stop worrying about when the hard drive in your computer will die. Google wants to kill it permanently anyway.

"The new Google Chrome operating system, which was unveiled Tuesday, as well as hints and suggestions from Apple and Microsoft, offers us a preview of the PC of the future. And it will come without that familiar whirring disk that has been the data heart of the PC for the past 25 years.

"The Chrome OS will at first be available on all-black laptops from Samsung and Acer. And because the new platform stores everything -- files, applications, data bits and bytes, literally everything -- on online servers rather than on your home or office PC, those new PCs running it won't require gobs of storage. In fact, they won't require any storage at all...."

Reality check, please.

"...In fact, they won't require any storage at all...." isn't - quite - accurate. The new 'Google laptops' won't have much data stored in the device you have.

A bit deeper in the article is a look at what "won't require any storage at all" means:

"...It's all about 'the cloud,' the generic term for storing data online and off your computer. E-mail apps from Yahoo and G-mail and Hotmail kicked off cloud computing, since the e-mail application you're running and the data you're accessing is all stored online. It's reliable, easy to access and convenient ... so for data in general, why store it on your desktop PC at all?

"Google's Chrome operating system takes that idea and runs with it -- down the street, up the next block, and straight on into the sunset. The Chrome OS assumes you're always in your browser -- which is the access point for most of your files anyway, right? Web pages, e-mails, documents on Google Docs, photos stored at Flickr, video chats, streaming music from Pandora and on and on. Think about it: Most of what you do is online, isn't it?

" 'Today's operating systems were designed in an era where there was no web,' Google spokesman Eitan Bencuya told 'Google Chrome OS is designed for people who spend most of their time on the web. It's our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.'..."

All Your Date Stored in a Server - Somewhere: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

The Lemming spends a great deal of time online: researching and writing these posts, doing the same for other blogs, handling email and occasionally goofing off. The Lemming likes the Internet.

The Lemming thinks that storing data off-site is a good idea. Sometimes. Off-site storage is a fail-safe way to archive data, for example: if your office burns, the business could recover, using data stored somewhere else.

But: store all data out there, somewhere: on the assumption that Internet connections always work, and DNS servers never fail, and storms don't happen?

Warning! Old Coot Reminiscing

The Lemming remembers when Japanese manufacturers saved a whole lot of money, by not dedicating floor space to keeping 'extra' inventory on hand. Instead, they had enough stock on hand to keep making cars, robots, or whatever the factory made, for maybe a day or so. New stock was constantly shipped in, to keep the factory going.

It was a great system. As long as everything worked perfectly. Even Japanese manufacturers have their bad days, it seems: like the Aisin Fire in 1997. MIT/Sloan pointed out how brilliantly Toyota handled that little setback. Still, with a larger inventory on hand: well, that's not how they worked.

Information Technology Always Works, Right?

The Lemming has a webcam, looking at an intersection in the small town where I live. The webcam relies on a regional ISP to get the signal out. Most of the time that works well. Sometimes, like November 22, 2010, it doesn't.

Having a webcam offline for an hour or so won't make or break the Lemming: although some folks may have been disappointed when their view disappeared.

Having everything I do stopped dead, because of a communications glitch somewhere in the upper Midwest? That could be a bit more than merely annoying. Practically everything I do involves stored data and a computer.

If I've got the computer, but the data is in a server that I can't reach - I don't have a computer. I've got a very expensive paperweight. Come to think of it, I can get almost enough light to read by from the monitor: so it wouldn't be a complete loss.

Then there's the matter of security. Well, the Lemming supposes that information stored in the cloud is completely secure, safe from any hacker. Oh, wait: every now and then there's another news item about credit card data that's been stolen or lost. Presumably the folks in financial institutions are plugging the holes: but it's happened. (April 29, 2010, June 28, 2010, January 18, 2008) Then there's the WikiLeaks thing that's in the news - and will be for the foreseeable future, it seems.

No, the Lemming strongly suspects that data isn't entirely safe when it's stored on someone else's server.

Someday, maybe. Not today.

The article discusses applications where it would, in the Lemming's opinion, make sense to have the device in your hand and your data off on a server in Nigeria, New Jersey, Romania, or wherever your ISP found the cheapest rates.

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Brigid said...

Did the record skip? "for example: if your office burns, for example,"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

P.S. But it looks good on paper! Oy.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


So it did it did.

As you say: "But it looks good on paper!"

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