Ok, a bit of a pointless rant here. I see many people suggesting that somehow web 2.0 technology is the same as cloud computing. Big shock coming, it isn’t. I also see people inferring that cloud computing somehow forces you to hand over all your data leaving you with an empty desktop and that horrible feeling associated with forgetting to get dressed before you go into the office – another shock coming, it doesn’t have to.
The twenty cent summary is that ‘cloud computing’ is the (as close to real time) provisioning of computing resources when you need them. You can think of this as having software made available to you or infrastructure made available to you (or other combinations) – when you want it and to solve the problems you have.
Sure, web 2.0 and cloud computing together can provide some extremely compelling applications and you’re likely to see quite a few of those being developed.
Do you have to move all your data into the ‘cloud’, well that depends on the applications that reside in the cloud, or the applications you as a developer develop (if you are one). It is certainly possible to use infrastructure as a service in a stateless manner – that is, you pass whatever data you need to the on demand infrastructure / application to process and return you the results – without any data being saved permanently in the cloud. This is not an appropriate design pattern for all applications, some may need to work on large datasets or have certain required performance characteristics. Each design has tradeoffs and data protection issues – are they all the same – no, of course not.
The cloud is not evil, it is not trying to eat your children. Don’t believe all the hype either- cloud computing and web 2.0 wont free elvis from the aliens or make britney a good singer. Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing are part of an emerging tool set that will see wonderful (and complete crap) applications developed. They are not the solution to every problem, but they are certainly the solution to many problems, some we as yet don’t even realize we have.