Is The Cloud Dying?

16/09/2016 11:58

My forecast for the future is clear skies; the cloud is becoming obsolete. Well, when it comes to data analytics, anyway.

Sure, for startups and small businesses the cloud server provides the opportunity to focus on product development and increase the speed of go-to-market. Smaller companies don't have the capacity to deal with server development and security, and so a cloud server is a great solution. It's opened the gates for many applications, which has to be commended.

Why move the data?

While the cloud has many different uses, which we haven't yet seen the full potential of, why would you use the cloud to gather and analyse complex mobile data when personal devices have so much power in themselves? And why would you take this data off personal devices, without needing to?

The cloud is expensive, and transferring personal data leads to complex issues relating to data privacy and regulation compliance.

Handling data in the CPU in a power-efficient manner - when the user is on their device less, or when the device is plugged into a power source - means information doesn't need to be transferred anywhere.

Cloud compromise

Cloud thought leader Dr Jason Hoffman stated that businesses need to adopt a position where everyone is classified as an insider, meaning there's an assumption that everyone has system access. Instead of trying to secure the entire system, companies should instead work to secure the important data within it. While this may act as a solution, it's one that seems to be a compromise.

Last year, the European Court of Justice overturned the 15-year old Safe Harbor Agreement, meaning that American companies are no longer able to keep EU citizens' data in the US. Overnight, a centralised cloud infrastructure, where all industry data is stored in one place, became redundant. This is an example of the short-termism and a lack of flexibility that's raising questions over the cloud's position in data storage.

Of course, this is all assuming that data does actually have to be moved from the device it's captured on.

The alternative

The alternative is to process and analyse data on user devices, reducing the need for large-scale, costly infrastructure. Combined with strong encryption for any data that does need to eventually move means costs are kept down, and personal information isn't at risk.

The issue with any data breach is that information can be linked back to each individual. However, by heavily encrypting and anonymising it before it's stored, the data is depersonalised. It's meaningless if anyone manages to hack it. And there's nothing more worthless than meaningless data.

Compare this to most social media channels, where copious amounts of very personal information is shared in an open forum. Hackers can easily use this to create profiles of people, providing endless opportunities to misuse the data.

We need to rethink what it means to move something to the server, cloud or otherwise. We can embrace the cloud, but we need to deal very carefully with what we send to it. People need more control when it comes to their personal information, and we have to stop this obsession with moving data around for the sake of it. Not only is it affecting privacy, it's slowing processing time.

Put your umbrellas away. The cloud is clearing.