The problem with reliance on the cloud

Written by Ian on August 2, 2012. Posted in Google, The Cloud

Over the last few years I have gradually been moving to the cloud using services from both Google & Microsoft.

I am big fan of Gmail & other Google services for my personal use and stick to Microsoft for running a business.

One of the services I use from Google is iGoogle, this fantastic cloud based home page that you can access from anywhere in any browser and have personalised content in it and I use it every day without fail.

Google have made an amusement that iGoogle is going to close in a few months (31 July 2012) and the service will be lost, and while Google have given more than enough notice for me to find a new way to do things I am still a little miffed as I have grown reliant on a fantastic service.

So what does the withdrawal of iGoogle teach me, well one of the things I have said for many years is you get what you pay for so perhaps I should not be too surprised when things like this happen, I read a fantastic article that had the following words of wisdom contained within it:

“The fracas serves as a useful reminder that cloud-based services exist at the convenience of their owners, not their users.” (

So this little inconvenience will move me to self hosting of some of the services that Google provides for free and can withdraw at will when ever it no longer sees a use or enough demand for them. It will cost me a few pounds each year but just what price do you put on your own destiny.  The most difficult one will be Gmail and I will need to think a little about the best way to deal with that one.

So I will personally move my reliance on iGoogle into a self hosted portal where I can have my window on the world wide web accessible regardless of location without the need for a free service but what about my use of the cloud in business.

Well for business use I have a very different relation with the cloud, I run my own domain with my own email, I store all of my documents locally with some of they synced with the cloud as needed. I use the Microsoft service to pull my emails’ from my server so I can work with email on diffrent devices without compromising the original source of the emails’ and my emailes are downloaded to Outlook so I have a local copy  that I can archive and keep. To my mind the pick & mix nature of my business use of the cloud is the best of both worlds, you have the ability to use the cloud but if a service was removed like iGoogle it would be a little annoying but not a problem.

And perhaps that is the point of this post, the cloud is a fantastic idea and while it is in vogue there will be lost of free services but as soon as a service falls out of favour then it will be withdrawn, I doubt that when iGoogle is removed from service that anyone will mind as there will be a project to replace or replicate the service but I wonder how many others will think that is Google can remove a well used & loved service then what else can they remove.
I guess if you are master of your own data that is the way to be, use the free cloud services to make life a little easier but becoming dependent on services that can and will be removed when the wind changes may not b the best way forward.

Just imagine if Google was to say the free Gmail accounts will become a thing of the past in 6 months and then offered a pay service of £2.00 a month, how difficult would it be to move away?

Now I am not saying that Gmail is moving to a pay model but it is worth remembering that Google is there to make money and if a free service they supply no longer contributes towards the generation of money then what life will it have and how much would be willing to pay to keep it going.

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