Since a few years already one of the main buzzwords of the I.T. industry is the Cloud. I do not mean to suggest that cloud computing is only a buzzword, far from that, and several articles of these blogs actually explain the opposite. This post won’t be about a buzzword either. Rather, it will be about two distinct trends brought by cloud computing and… peer to peer networks. These two trends creata an increasingly visible dychotomy: I call it the silos and peers paradox.
One of the intended effects of cloud computing is that both people and entire organisations constantly feed clouds with data to store, backup or process. Network effects and the concentration of resources and players in this field enable actual silos of data at a global scale. This is not really something new; but what is new is the ability to store, use and back up data through pretty much the same cloud technologies on personal storage and devices. These devices are fully synced one to another and are able to stream data to any other devices you allow. In a way, this could be seen like switching from a centralized system of on-demand and always on offers of software, platforms and infrastructure (aka the Cloud) to a decentralized network made of personal infrastructure serving services, content and platform on demand. You can increasingly choose between silos -and you may have good reasons to choose these- and peers.
At the moment these “personal clouds” tend to focus on rather individual scenarios: my music, my files, my pictures, all synced and streamed across my devices or the ones of my friends and relatives. But increasingly calendars and mails are included, paving the way at some point in the future for real “corporate” offers. There are already many examples of this but instead of pointing to one company, I can point to the Unhosted movement and the Decentralize everything manifesto. I’m particularly excited by the ability to have “unhosted apps” work for people in a peer to peer fashion. Now the question you may ask is why should businesses be interested in decentralized clouds? Precisely because they would want commodity, independence and asynchronicity. The history of I.T. is a constant pendulum movement between a model where the “server” dominates in a top-down model, and the one where the fat client gets the priority. Extra storage and networking powers are adding quite some spice to it and I’m excited by this!