Monday, 1 June 2009

The Battle in the Cloud

First of all, I'd like to apologise to my readers for not posting for quite a while. It seems that the good folk at the Golden Shield project have been working overtime after the Olympics because the internet freedom we experienced last year has all but been taken away from us poor sods based in China. For the last couple of months, we poor expatriates in China have been deprived of YouTube, Blogspot, Wordpress and it seems that even much of the stuff that is going to my Google Reader has been hobbled.

My plan to develop my own personal blogging empire has therefore been thwarted and I am reduced to posting via Posterous for all my blogs. Sigh!

A shame because in the internet world is in the brink of revolution. Well at least there is a concerted effort to do so. Only last week, the internets have been all a flutter about, Microsofts new search engine which I imagine is a serious effort by the Redmond gang to topple the reign of Google. So far I've seen that bing has had a mixed reception but it will be hard to tell until people start to adopt. Of course bing is much prettier than Google so some people might prefer it to Google as a start page in their browser.

The Google camp have in their strategic move announced Google Wave. My interpretation of this is it is essentially Google Profile on steroids. This could be seen as an attack on the MSN Live front. I won't go to much into this theory (because it's just too convoluted and I am continually interrupted by pretty girls walking by and the noisy table of Hongkies on the table next to me at the Coffee Bean in XinTianDi where I am writing this) but it seems to me that the two juggernauts of cyberspace are in for an epic battle for the evolving cloud.

I'll be first to say that when I first heard about cloud computing it seemed a little sci-fi and brought to mind images of The Matrix and the Lawnmower Man but as the months rolled on it has become more and more viable. As we approached the holy grail of decentralised processing power, the peaces are falling in place for our computing lives to go online and these latest campaign by the two major combatants indicate the changing winds.

Both Microsoft and Google are vying for the dominant position in the future of computing by assembling the battalions most suited to occupy the cloud when the corpses are buried and the gun smoke clears. Take Google for example. If you imagine how Google Wave will work when it is launched, it is an amalgamation of pretty much everything that currently exists. It allow you to post messages, images, video, much like Facebook, FriendFeed and to a lesser degree Twitter. It will then integrate documents for collaboration much like what Google Docs already does and I imagine it provides some kind of control as to how you share all this information which has the potential to replace every other social network in existence. By connecting various components of cloud together it can act like Google Profiles on steriods. The good thing though is that with a public API if Wave takes off it could create a whole new ecosystem of smaller online business that would plug into Waves functionality making Google the essential glue that binds the cloud together.

In the other corner is Microsoft. Almost hiding in plain sight is their Live suite. Document sharing, instant messaging, spaces, photo sharing, MS has been quietly amassing the firepower to create it's own cloud within the cloud. Now the culture of MS is not the most open source and should the victor come from the Ballmer camp then the future of the cloud could be dark, stormy and possible expensive. Sure all the MSN live stuff is free now but because of the closed nature of anything that MS releases, that could all change in a second.

So what does the future hold for the average netizen? On the one hand we may have a cloud occupied by many service providers but held together by Google that (if the wind changes) could tax the web businesses that rely on it to connect to the end user. I liken this to the Chinese government who provides you with certain freedoms but at a moments notice could "disappear" you in the middle of the night. The alternative is Microsoft. A fascist dictator who controls everything you own from day one.

My friends! Understand that your future under threat. Heed this warning because cyberspace needs a saviour. The internet is fast becoming a bipartisan organism with no geographic borders. Who will that saviour be? Who can we trust with our virtual existence?

Disclaimer: Please read this post as you would the scratchings on the walls of a prison cell of GFW penitentiary.

Posted via email from Dedric's posterous


Kate Carruthers said...

It is hard to see the creativity and innovation of people being stifled like this. I'm very conscious that it can easily happen anywhere. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

alex gibson said...

I agree. And nice blog title. I am traveling to China soon and I have a little travel blog... your insight would be welcome too. Would love to blog-share with you. :)