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Richard Stallman is surprisingly wrong in his interview to The Guardian. In the interview he seems to be confusing the cloud computing/SaaS technology and the current lock-in way big vendors are using it.

Let me quote the interview:

Cloud computing – where IT power is delivered over the internet as you need it, rather than drawn from a desktop computer – has gained currency in recent years. Large internet and technology companies including Google, Microsoft and Amazon are pushing forward their plans to deliver information and software over the net.

But Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and creator of the computer operating system GNU, said that cloud computing was simply a trap aimed at forcing more people to buy into locked, proprietary systems that would cost them more and more over time.

The logical mistake that the article makes is confusing the technology and the implementation. There is nothing inherent in cloud computing approach that creates a vendor lock-in more than on-premise systems. After all, we have heard multiple times Microsoft being accused of creating lock-in with their Office file-formats or undocumented internal protocols.

Cloud computing is fundamentally about outsourcing non-core IT infrastructure such as messaging to others who can run it cost-effectively for you in their datacenters enjoying the economy of scale and opportunity to perfect this one system they care about. Because of this, the approach currently has inherent economic advantages.

The fact that current implementations mostly try to lock customer data in providers’ datacenters is to be expected in any early market. This is a problem which is likely will need to be addressed due to valid concerns Richard is expressing. I believe that this will happen – a this is happening in the on-premise world partly due to the anti-trust governmental activities, partly thanks to the open source movement and overall change to the popular opinion.

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The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer Jelastic or anyone else for that matter. All trademarks acknowledged.

© 2008-2012 Dmitry Sotnikov

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