Sometime ago I wrote a post regarding cloud computing and cloud storage, and explained how I kind of extensively use the cloud and the technologies out there to access my data from anywhere, keeping it safe at the same time.
If you read that post (I recommend you to do so), you can tell that I use a lot of Google services, and there is a reason for that. Google was one of the first company that started pushing the cloud computing industry forward. Gmail, Google Calendar, GTalk, Google Docs, are just a few examples of cloud computing products that set and created the trend.
Let’s just keep in mind here that I’m talking about cloud computing and storage altogether and not only cloud storage (Cloud storage is just saving your data in the cloud, like Dropbox, Box.net, and the new Google Drive)
These cloud computing products are excellent, providing incredible functionality and convenience to many people (me included) and businesses around the world. Companies like Twitter for instance run their calendars and meetings on Google Calendar, and their corporate Email under Google’s servers.
On the other hand, millions of users around the world use Gmail as their primary not only email service, but email client and email storage as well. People are also extensively using Google Docs to create, edit and share documents with co-workers and friends.
All this is great, so what is the problem then?
Now imagine, for one moment, that Gmail breaks down. You will lose the ability to send and receive emails, and you may say that it’s not a big deal and that you can get the service from other providers (i.e.: Hotmail or Yahoo). But the problem is not the actual email service, is the fact that all of your emails are in Gmail servers, so if you lose access to Gmail, you may be losing access to years of email communication, with valuable information and attachments in them.
But it gets worse! What about Google Docs? All of your files are there, only editable in that online office suite. If you were to lose access to it you will lose the files, and the software!
And Calendar? All your past and future meetings and events will be lost, without any way to recover them, or restore them.
Do you get the big picture? Depending entirely (files and the software to manage those files) on the cloud put your online productivity at risk and out of our control. It looks like that’s the price we would have to pay for the convenience and accessibility of the cloud? Who knows.
The Apple approach
I’ve been an iPhone user for the past 3 years, and iPad user for 2 years, and a Mac OS user for 1 year. I’ve seen the creation and rise of their cloud service: iCloud, and I’ve been comparing it to the other cloud services that I use, mainly Google’s.
Their approach is different. Instead of having everything on the cloud (software and data), you will have everything on your devices, as long as you have an Apple device.
On my phone, I have a calendar app, completely functional, that doesn’t depend on whether I have Internet or not. I also have the same software on my iPad, and also on my laptop (Mac OS). The calendar apps will work, independently, in each one of these devices, and will use the cloud service to stay in sync.
Same goes with to-do’s lists, photos, files, music, documents, and email. Everything is pushed to my devices, and I own my data, because is locally stored on my devices, and stored in the cloud.
You can say that this is the way Apple can keep us buying their products, and that’s fine. But, forgetting about that hater mindset for a minute, just picture these 2 scenarios:
- Google Docs goes down: You don’t have a writing program/app anymore, and you don’t have your files either.
- Apple’s cloud service goes down: You have your writing software on your computer and all your files as well, that also happen to be on your iPhone and on your iPad too.
The user of the Apple scenario will still be able to work, view documents, edit them, even print them. The Google user will need to wait for the services to be re-established.
You can also say what if you laptop breaks down? Having everything locally creates the same, if not bigger, risks as having everything on the cloud! Well, that’s what backups are for. Combining Apple cloud’s approach, with local hard disc backups and online backups (i.e.: Dropbox) will allow you to just get a new laptop, and download your files.
What about web access? I mean, Will you always need to have an Apple device to access you email, notes, documents, contacts and pictures? That’s not fair! I hear you, and that was the main advantage Google had over Apple’s. Not anymore though: www.icloud.com, a web interface that gives you web access to you email, notes, reminders, contacts, documents, and files.
So, you don’t only have all you data locally in all your Apple devices, you also can access it online.
If you are thinking that the odds of a massive Google outage are so small that is not worth worrying about it, you should read this article about a recent Amazon outage.
To me, the Apple’s cloud approach gives users more control and ownership over their data and files, creating multiple points of failure, instead of just one, allowing us to have some level of redundancy and protection.
Do you agree with me? Let me know what you think on your comments.