In response to readers' suggestion to look at the cloud hype, I first wrote in May about Microsoft and Taiwan government's collaboration to invest 2.4*10^10 NT dollars smelling badly of corporate greed exploiting public ignorance while feeding on government resources. Seeing that the hype in Taiwan grows stronger and stronger each day, I wrote two blog articles in Chinese ( SaaS and PaaS history) and received some attention. Then I pasted the blog articles into a paper (Chinese) and presented it in one of the many academic cloud conferences. Later Carla Schroder of LinuxToday wrote a piece Keep Your Cloud, I'm a Customer Not a Consumer and I realized that the extensive hype is not limited to Taiwan alone. So I decided that the paper is worth translating into English (with slight modifications), as: "A Brief History of Cloud Computing (Before the Commercial Hype) and Purchasing Suggestions". For people and organizations that cannot adapt their working cultures to the wiki way of doing things, VNC and various FLOSS CMS are good enough cloud solutions. They should know of these before bothering with any proprietary and expensive SaaS.

Just like solar energy can be used to create a cooling system to combat the heat it brings about, or the greed and lack of trust of a scam artist group can be turned against itself, so can we turn the cloud hype into something productive and make it benefit the society.

  1. Let's write a whole bunch of academic papers (which usually I am not fond of doing) and blog posts talking about the success stories of deploying FLOSS such as all kinds of wikis and CMS like Joomla/Drupal/Wordpress/Xoops/..., but using cloud computing jargons.
  2. Let's talk about repeated exploits on old IE's as a problem of flying into the cloud without safety measures.
  3. Let's talk about the importance of remix culture, why creative commons licenses help, why software patents hurt, etc. in light of cloud computing's superior work flow model.
  4. Let's talk about network neutrality, government transparency, citizen journalism, etc. from the viewpoint of a society heavily dependent on cloud computing.
  5. ...

In fact, I even volunteered to organize a session devoted to "Cloud Technology and the Society" (English draft) in an upcoming academic conference to be held in March or April 2011, an academic endeavor which I usually shun. Like those whose motives are selling more "cloud software", we can also appoint ourselves as cloud experts. Unlike them, we do have solid experiences of actually using cloud in a collaborative way to share with the confused public. As Microsoft and other interest groups engage in selling their software products as cloud computing's technical solutions, so should we engage in selling the collaborative experiences of the Wikipedia project and the likes as cloud computing's social advantages. And then let the confused public decide which flight towards the cloud looks safer, more convincing, and more economical.

(How is free culture related to the cloud hype? Please see A Brief History of Cloud Computing (Before the Commercial Hype) and Purchasing Suggestions for details.)