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Chapter 1 – What is the challenge to web applications in the cloud?

I’ve been reading a few articles about HTML 5, and Google Docs challenging Microsoft, and Microsoft’s preview of their new online office version.  Couple all of this to Apple’s recently released iTunes-LP format and it really got me to wondering: what is the holdup to getting people to move their data online?  Well let me take a moment for a bit of a side journey to get to my point.  Firstly, I’m a fan of the recently released live action/CGI Transformers series, actually I think that the second file is better than the first, and after watching it in HD on vacation I realized that I want to “own” the Blu-ray version of the file, and this is really what kicked off my thinking process.  If I could own an iTunes directed digital copy on my computer with numerous backup copies on various hard drives, and a HD copy on AppleTV why would I want to get the Blu-ray version?  It is simple, I want to get a static somewhat permanent copy of the file and then forget about worrying if I have a copy someplace or not — I only need to remember that I have a copy when I want to watch it.  Tangible existence is something that my brain has been tuned for through nearly 100,000 years of human continuous improvements.  With the digital copy I have to remember well a lot of things and that leads to being an excessive worrier.  Here are some samples of what I think about.

  • Did I back that up?
  • Wait, I changed a setting on iTunes and my files went away?
  • Wait, something funny happened to this media and I cannot find the file any longer.  Damn I did make a copy and something …
  • Did I back that up?

All of this gets me back to my iTunes woes and wanting Apple to open up their metadata so that I don’t have to back things up any more and I’d even like the option to purchase a Blu-ray copy.  If they just allowed me to re-download a copy when I lost one it would put my mind at ease and let me get to the point of feeling like these digital files are more tangible and therefore I can worry less.

This train of thought answered my question for me: people don’t want to move applications and data online because they are emotionally concerned.  They worry, they have anxiety (did I back that up?), they have fear.  My thinking was further bolstered by the point that there are some media that I want to have “hard copies” of and others that I don’t care about so much and can be transient: meaning I can delete the file when I’m done.  Resolving people’s 100,000 year old emotional sense is something that the cloud providers will have to get past, not just on the consumer or prosumer side, but even more so for businesses.  You can even see this debate happening now, but not about the cloud just about where to keep the authoritative digital copy and what media type is best for it.  For example, I know that several governmental institutions in the US are contemplating tape as the final resting point for digital documents.  This is simply because they state that tape is more reliable than any other technology out their today for true long term archive.  In my opinion I would change “they state that tape” to “they trust tape” because I think that this is largely emotional.  So if the US government who is responsible for storing things like the US Constitution cannot get past the simple idea of moving 100% to state of the art private cloud like technology then how can the next step be taken of bulk movement to the public cloud?

(In my next post, I’ll explore an interesting facet of the generational divide with the Millennials coming up and their perceptions of media or digital data.)

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[...] Chapter 1 – What is the challenge to web applications in the cloud?(September 20th, 2009) [...]

[...] adjustment for the next generation coming into college and the workplace.  As I have talked about before the entire business world must consider how to relate to the new generation that is just now coming [...]

Michael Hay

Data Center Advisors

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