Should We Continue Using the Cloud?

Silicon Valley season 5 has made me really start rethinking the way of technology in terms of evolution. The internet in it’s inception helped move us away from heavy desktop clients (i.e. the stranglehold Microsoft had on the OS). But as the internet grew heavier, cloud computing became an unstoppable force. Now, with privacy concerns, issues of data retention and just the general cost of maintaining cloud based systems, we need to re-examine the real need with the cloud, especially since mobile has evolved.

To bring it back to Silicon Valley season 5, Richard’s new internet effectively is a de-centralized system where mobile devices or practically anything running a mini-server, becomes a fragment in the scheme of things. I wrote a story that had similar ideas where anything with computing power and a network connection could become a de-centralized part of this whole system. It basically takes the idea of peer-to-peer and adds CPU utilization.

But if you really think about certain parts like Facebook, do we really need the cloud to serve up all the content? I feel that the only real reason for maintaining a server is for collecting data.  But as phones evolve, perhaps the real solution is to just distribute and retain what is necessary at the mobile level.

Part of my argument for this move is that people will end up being able to have more control over their data. If we use the Pied Piper model where a fragment of our phones are used to share everyone’s data, then we basically have a massively scaling system all around us with almost no points of failure.

Of course, this is pretty idealistic but it is a tempting one. For instance, imagine a completely de-centralized Facebook. No server, but just your phone housing it’s own data that is relevant to you. If a server really is needed, it’s only purpose is to proxy data back and forth and act as a switch. The real data that needs to be stored will exist only at the phone level. So things like photos and videos could be retained for limited periods of time.

I mean, effectively Snapchat is (or was) like this. But it’s actually a sensible model because of how data does not scale well. Storing data just creates a rising, depreciating cost because of how outdated things can become. Add the network usage and a centralized system the does business logic, etc. can be easily crippled.

I see pure mobile as the wave of the future just because of Moore’s law. Putting the cost on individuals rather than companies just makes too much sense to me.

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