There are plenty of people who are, to put it mildly, skeptical about software as a service specifically and cloud computing in general. Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, comes to mind. Ian Betteridge of the Technovia blog is another. And there are plenty more.
Luis Villa sums up the shortcomings of computing in the Internet cloud. But he also brilliantly describes the cool stuff cloud computing offers to users today; options not possible to those ideologically closed thinkers like Stallman, who has labeled SaaS and such a "trap" and "worse than stupidity." However, Villa has a more subtle mind than Stallman and finds unique value in the cloud. Think Facebook. Think Google Earth. Anyone interested in SaaS and cloud computing should read it.
For some cloud critics privacy is a key concern; others fear data loss; vendor-lock-in is yet another worry. All are valid reasons to keep a jaundiced eye when gazing at the possibilities SaaS has to offer you and your business.
Certainly, if privacy is your biggest bugaboo, using any computer anytime anywhere would be the last thing I'd ever do. To mix metaphors: if you don't want to be on anyone's radar, don't get on the grid in the first place.
If data loss is your concern, the solution has always been the same and it's always been simple: backup your information regularly and locally in different media. SaaS does not prevent you from doing so.
Unless you're an open source purist, vendor lock-in has always been a specious issue to me. You have reasons that attract you to a specific product and vendor--Apple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows on Dell, heck, a Saab 9-3 or a Chevy Malibu, for that matter. Vendor choice is not just about computers, after all. We choose a product for features, performance, price, whatever, and unless we want to build it ourselves, we're stuck with whomever we choose to get it from. I believe it's called capitalism.
Despite dark views of cloud computing, when done right, it brightens the day for many a user by solving their important problems. And problem solving is not stupid.
This story, "The Cool Side of Cloud Computing" was originally published by Computerworld.