Summary: The internet cloud is swelling by the day. An increasingly large number of business organizations, government agencies and educational institutions are in a hurry to jump on the cloud computing and technology wave, the ‘next big thing’ after the World Wide Web. While the benefits of the cloud are no doubt great, what most people seem to completely ignore is that user autonomy is being sacrificed at the cost of comfort.
Did you know that the structure of the internet was designed to be a ‘network of peers’? The World Wide Web was supposed to be free from any hierarchical or structural control wherein each tiny component contributed on a miniscule or enormous level to ultimately lead to the formation of mega network architecture.
Cloud computing solutions and related IT services, in more ways than one, are here to shake up the entire system as far as ‘freedom from hierarchical or structural control’ is concerned. From decentralized network architecture, we are now moving towards a centralized structure and the transformation is taking place at a very rapid pace.
Data centers or clusters today house a large number of computing resources – data, code, and applications – all at one place. While the advent of cloud computing solutions has almost certainly ensured provision of cheaper and more advanced IT services for everyone on the planet, they’ve also introduced a tradeoff between the user autonomy and the level of comfort or convenience internet users are provided with. User autonomy is not a priority anymore. It’s comfort and ease of use that everyone seems to be talking about.
To put it simply, cloud service providers are focused on making user interfaces simpler and more efficient at the cost of user autonomy. This tradeoff is here to stay.
Whether a businessman or government employee has actively signed up for a cloud based service or not, s/he is likely to have interacted with dozens of different internet applications or subscribed to services on the internet that are based on the cloud. Yes, that is true.
In other words, personal information as well as confidential business critical data or financial information of millions of people is already there on different clusters, vulnerable to manipulation, theft and misuse.
The level of comfort offered by highly robust applications powered by the cloud is no doubt great if not outstanding. Businesses no longer need to invest in expensive hardware or purchase software licenses as cloud computing solutions and IT services eliminate the need for stand-alone hardware and recurring software license purchases.
Gone are the days when businesses spent money on purchasing hard drives, cables, switches or different software in order to create backups or to automate processes such as accounting, inventory management, sales, customer care etc. Scaling up too is not a problem at all because a business entity just needs to pay slightly more to have an additional set of services.
Cloud solutions are cost-effective, convenient, easy-to-use and scalable. Agreed.
The problem comes when all these benefits or comforts begin to dictate the overall shape that the World Wide Web takes over the next few years. The dramatic shift from an end-to-end architecture to all-at-one-place is silent in nature except for software engineers, IT experts and few others in the IT industry or business world. User autonomy is clearly at stake as end-to-end principle is the basic requirement for it.
The fundamental design of the internet is changing and whether you like it or not, there’s little anyone can do about it. The worst part – user autonomy is no longer a priority and misinformed internet users appear to care little about it.