Dreaming of Clouds


Recently, my favourite web hosting provider, DreamHost, announced that they would launch a new cloud-based storage service, DreamObjects. It’s currently in Beta, and free during that period, so, as part of my volunteering effort to try it out, I hacked a WordPress plugin to take advantage of DreamHost’s cloud-based storage.

This in itself is nothing special. Gazillions of companies are all launching their own cloud-based storage & computing services — DreamHost is just one among them. Right? Well, wrong. Cloud-based storage start-ups, like everything else in the digital economy, come and go. They raise some capital, do some cool development, add a slick website, catch the attention of Slashdot or other geeky websites, get a few customers, and close their doors after all the venture capital being exhausted. So some people very reasonably shun cloud-based storage: they simply don’t trust providers with their content.

Of course this is a very one-sided way of seeing things, but they are, in fact, reflecting what I also defend: mistrust anyone without a valid business model. Why is Amazon so successful as a leading cloud provider? Because they use that for their own infrastructure. What this means is that they pour money and resources in something that maintains their main business model, which is, of course, Amazon.com. They would have to develop their own cloud anyway. What they do is just to earn a few more billions by giving access to others to their own technology — this is super-clever of them. Because, no, Amazon is no going away. No, their cloud technology is not merely a “nice thing that we have developed and raised some funds to pay for it” but part of the mission-critical solution they need to support their services. It’s exactly because they are already a successful company that they can convey end-users the idea that their own services will continue to be around and not simply disappear over the weekend like all others.

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