This interview with Nicholas Carr paints a slightly scary view of the future, world in which we have to worry about our public information. In looking forward to cloud computing, there are a lot of issues to think about, and I think, a lot of maturity for companies and applications.
There are a lot of concerns that people give about moving to cloud computing services for databases, and security is at the top of the list. People worry that their data will be insecure, hacked into, lost by a third party, regulatory agencies won't allow it, and more. Personally I think a lot of that is unfounded. We routinely share sensitive information with companies, usually financial information, to allow those companies to provide us a service.
Payroll and other accounting services are commonly shared. Salesforce.com holds sales information for many companies, which amazes me still. Many companies think nothing of outsourcing email, especially critical emails like marketing campaigns. And the list will keep growing. Companies are made up of people, and as more and more people get comfortable using cloud services like Flickr, Blogger, Gmail, etc. in their personal lives, they'll be more comfortable using similar services in business.
But that doesn't mean it will be easy. Concentrations of data, whether at Google, some other hosting company, or even a service location in your company, will be targets for information theft. I'm not sure it's a lot worse than it is today, but it does mean that stronger security and stronger authentication methods will need to be employed.
Assuming that we could actually get the security worked out, there's a whole other level of issues. Last week there was a fiber line cut (actually two) that resulted in communication services being lost in Silicon Valley for ATT customers. Whether this was vandalism, sabotage, or even a form of terrorism, it's an issue. As we get more and more dependent on cloud type services, lost access becomes a bigger issue. It is one thing if you can't get to your photographs or download music for a few hours, quite another if your business loses access to its servers.
Does that mean cloud services won't ever work for business, or SQL Server? I don’t think that's the case, but it does mean that choosing a large, monopolistic vendor like Google might not be in your best interest. Perhaps dispersing your dependencies across multiple vendors, similar to what some companies do today for their web hosts, might make more sense.
SQL Server will have greater challenges than web sites as it moves to the cloud, but I do think we'll find ways to overcome the issues for many people.
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