Friday, December 21, 2012

Cloud Computing, baby milk & Nixon Shock

Trust me they are related! 
At the end of FIT-2012 (  there was a panel discussion in which cloud computing was presented as an excellent option for Pakistan to leap frog the problem of setting up expensive power consuming data centers. The fact that we have load shedding problem in Pakistan was presented as a very important motivating factor for move towards adoption of cloud computing. I have two objections to this solution in the current scenario which I present with historical background. tells how baby milk manufactures dressed their sales girls as nurses who persuaded unsuspecting mothers to abandon mother’s milk in favor of powder milk. Among the reasons given was the inadequate amount of milk that mothers were able to produce. Except for a very small percentage ( in single digit ) majority of mothers are fully capable of producing adequate milk for their babies. But once a baby is hooked up to something other than mother’s milk it is almost impossible to get back to mother’s milk for both the baby and the mother. This means that a single pack of free sample powder milk that the company provided made sure that they have a totally dependent customer for at least one year. Similarly if we get “hooked” on free or very cheap “cloud” now because we cannot produce enough electricity we can rest assure that we will pay a very heavy price in the long run. I am sorry but if any one doubts that then he/she does not understand capitalism. 
“In 1944, the Bretton Woods system fixed exchange rates based on the U.S. dollar, which was redeemable for gold by the U.S. government at the price of $35 per ounce. In other words, the U.S. dollar was based on the gold standard. But on August 15, 1971, Nixon issued Executive Order 11615, and unilaterally "closed the gold window", ending convertibility between U.S. dollars and gold.” This basically meant that the US government told other countries that it is no longer going to give them the gold which legally belonged to them. US being US did what it wanted and got away with it. If we put all of our data ( grades of our students, medical history of our families etc ) in US hands and expect not be exploited at some later point in time than we are fools who do not learn from history. 
I would suggest : 
The problem of load shedding should be fixed instead of making it as a basis of another much bigger problem. 
We partner with friendly/trust worth countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Iran, Egypt etc and build our “cloud” by sharing/replicating resources. This will also solve the problem of under-utilization of resources when it is night in Pakistan. 
I am afraid that if we don't take practical steps to build our own cloud than in less than five years time almost all of data will be in US hands. Keep in mind what India does to the flow of our rivers and than imagine what US will do when all of our data ( CT scans, doctor's prescriptions, student grades etc ) will be in US control. At that point our doctor's won't be able to operate because the data needed to operate will be in US. Our universities won't be able to issue transcripts because student grades will be in US.

I hope people are not offended by what I have written. 

Thanks & AH