Why you might not always want to use Google Cloud

There was a recent thread on Slashdot about a somebody that got locked out of his Google Cloud account which he used to monitor wind turbines across 8 countries.

What happened in that particular case was that the whole system was shut down without any action from the user himself. His 24/7 monitoring was shut down without any prior warning and no way to remedy this in a timely manner.

The small print in the agreement also mentions a 3 day period to rectify the issue or have everything deleted. 3 days can become quite a short period of time if the person managing the contract is on vacation on a remote island — or even offline.

This case is just one of several where Google has shut down services for users who were stuck with no access to their documents or applications. Of course somewhere deep in the terms and conditions there must be some paragraph that covers these cases for Googles side, but it is not what we would call friendly.

The current macroeconomic model leads to fewer and fewer competitors — and for the hugely important cloud computing market the dominance of less than a handful suppliers is frightening. Their huge size enables them to outcompete or buy any alternative that might try to step into this space.

The Friend Workspace — your cloud computer

For large corporations which have the power and the money to buy premium support that might not be an issue, but for many smaller companies that make use of the services at the lowest price level (sometimes free) no support is included — it is part of the deal.

So what are the alternatives? Decentralized computing of course. Blockchain has given a rise to both new possibilities for transparent transactions as well as economic models that incentivize users to be part of networks and be paid for it —through transparent and (ideally) automated micro transactions.

We will build Friend to allow users to get as cheap as possible virtual cloud computers that are not at a single supplier’s mercy or limited by their set capabilities. The rise of protocols and projects that offer decentralized storage and computing lets us take Friend (and cloud computing as a whole) to the next level.

Already today, Friend can be deployed across servers from different suppliers and single vendor fall-outs can be mitigated that way — but complete user owned cloud computing will be a totally different experience.

With new possibilities but also new responsibilities. Governance needs to be implemented to allow participants to stay within the legal framework of the countries they live in — both for their own privacy’s sake and also when it comes to illegal distribution of content.

All these challenges are solvable and the upside of enabling small communities, organizations and users to run their own infrastructure while still being part of a global network is a tempting proposition.

Intro photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash