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Back in the day when the cloud was dumb

Just a few years back, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison ridiculed the cloud, calling it a stupid concept. This was mostly because there is nothing new about remote storage and client-server, and that's pretty much what we are talking about here.

So why is the cloud suddenly the be-all and end-all solution to everything?

Well, it's not. In fact, it's a catchall term that I have never liked because it stems from the explanation for various telecom services, mainly Frame Relay. But that whole lash-up seems to be forgotten history.

Then there was the Dell fiasco in which the company claimed the "cloud computing" trademark. This became a huge scandal. Dell backed off and let the term fall into the public domain.

Several years ago, I was in Holland and was taken to task by a huge group of cloud computing folks who berated me for my continued and obnoxious objection to the whole notion. I had to convince them that many conceptual uses of remote servers, as I would prefer they be called, are indeed useful. Why, though, does it have to be called the "cloud?" Where is this cloud anyway? It's not in the sky and it doesn't hold water. So why "cloud?"

Much of this complaining comes from my earlier protest of the whole idea of client-server computing. Why? Because client-server was a throwback to minicomputers and to so-called distributed computing. The major difference was the WAN replaced the LAN in the structure. But the basic idea was the same: Wrest control from the individuals. It was counter-revolutionary, the way I saw it.

Don't kid yourself. The entire idea that people should have complete control of their computing needs with complete desktop subsystems, from hard disks to printers to telemetry gear, is frowned upon by a society that prefers centralised control.

No matter that centralised control is too expensive!

And from this perspective, let us look at the Internet and what it has done. It has completely reversed the revolution that began with the desktop computer. It has returned us to a networked environment with centralised control. You have no control over your link to Facebook, do you?

So the trade-off is that we get quicker access to all sorts of information. We can run programs remotely. We can have remote backup and the cloud! Cloud computing! Just like the old days when it was done on a mainframe.

And what else has the Internet brought us? The continuing decimation of the news media. Botnets. Viruses and the need to protect ourselves. Government snooping to an extreme.

So what was the lure of the Internet to begin with? Well it promised a better future. Yes, you could turn on your coffee pot while driving home and you'd have a cup of coffee waiting for you. Huzzah. Files could easily be sent back and forth. Everyone could be a publisher. We had email and chats – and e-commerce.

It's probably that last item on the list that ruined it for everyone. In the late 1980s, the old-timers moaned about the possibility that commercial interests would ruin the Internet. Seems like these folks had it right all along.

And yes, this is a Pandora's box that cannot be shut. So now, all we can do is complain.

One thing is for certain: They are trying to convince us that the cloud will come and go and come and go when really it's just old-fashioned mainframe-based distributed computing from 30 years ago all gussied up. They are trying to trick us.