Obscured by Cloud
Not sure how many people have seen the movie La Vallee, a French film that came out in 1972. Only reason I saw it is because I had previously discovered the most excellent soundtrack for the movie: Pink Floyd’s Obscured By Clouds.
The movie opens up with some groovy music and a fantastic flyover of mountains in Papa New Guinea. When it gets to a particularly cloudy section of the mountains, the subtitles in the movie say the following:
We are above unexplored regions.
They are not on the map…
or more precisely, they are shown only as white spots.
It is the unknown.
In the first 12 minutes or so of the film, the area where they were flying over is shown on a printed map:
What is in this area, and why is the group of explorers trying to get here? Apparently, it’s paradise. The nearby natives think it is quite the opposite.
I think the natives are right. The Cloud is anything but a paradise. Especially if you expect your data to always be there, accessible only to you and those you allow to access to it.
How do you know know you’ll be able to get to your data? Forget the issue with the data being in the cloud for a moment, can you even get to where the data is stored with enough bandwidth to make that access feasible? With WiFi-only tablets like the Nexus 7, there is no guarantees. Your odds are better with 3g/4G tablets, but even then there are plenty of times and place where your data is Obscured By Cloud.
Let’s assume you can actually get to your data with a fast enough connection. What is keeping that data there, safe and secure? Your cloud provider is telling you that data is secure, but how do you really know they are doing what they say? How do you know they will be in business tomorrow? And if they go out of business (or their servers gets confiscated by some government entity), what happens next?
Granted, it’s unlikely that a big player like Amazon or Google will necessarily disappear tomorrow. However, the threat of data being inadvertently leaked or government entities seizing hardware is still very real. Or even the terms of service changing without notice.
If you truly want to be able to access data from anywhere, local storage always wins. The cloud definitely provides some new capabilities, but don’t lose sight–or control–of your data.