Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Zakia Bouachraoui, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Roger Strukhoff

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Agile Computing, Release Management

@CloudExpo: Article

Google Chrome: No More a Cloud Computing OS Than Any Other Browser

It's as much part of cloud computing as Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer are

Ben Balbo's Blog

It's been said that Chrome could be the Google operating system that was being talked about many moons ago. Chrome is the operating system that provides access to the applications that reside in the cloud. But it's still just a browser.

We’re going to hear a lot about cloud computing in the coming months because Google have just released their latest product, Chrome. According to yesterday morning’s Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio National show, cloud computing will pose a danger to your on-line privacy and security with people able to read your email, see what web sites you’ve visited and reconcile your on-line activities, banking details and buying habits.

That’s what I understood from the show. I’m not entirely sure how Chrome fits in to the equation, but I’ll get to that later.

So apparently cloud computing is a system that allows applications to run “in the cloud” where all data is accessible by Google. The presenters did single out Google but added that other cloud computing providers could also access any data in their part of the cloud.

Experts were also quoted as being concerned about the security of the data in cloud computing environments as, not only does the user need to trust the application developer and maintainer, but any other third party that the application hosting is reliant upon. Currently people only need to worry about the software producers as all data is stored on your local computer.

I think there’s a massive amount of confusion here, or perhaps I’m the one that’s confused.

Let’s examine my view of what cloud computing is: computing power that resides “in the cloud” and isn’t dependent on one piece of hardware. I’ll flesh that out a little.

Sample network diagramIn network diagrams "clouds" are used to represent networks external to the one pictured for the purposes of depicting "connections between internal and external devices, without indicating the specifics of the outside network” [wikipedia]. Generally this refers to the Internet.

In the beginning there were servers. Real, physical boxes that ran an operating system. They would be web servers, database servers, email servers, and so on. Some servers would provide more than one function, offering web, database and email hosting, for example. People had the choice between having their own dedicated (physical) server or hosting in a shared environment where multiple clients’ web sites were hosted on one physical box. The latter option was much cheaper but also provided less flexibility in terms of server configuration for the end client.

Then there were virtual private servers. Imagine a physical server that contains multiple virtual servers. Each virtual server has its own operating system, its own disk space and can run its own programs. This provided the functionality of a dedicated server at a fraction of the cost.

Now imagine having a virtual private server but you don’t know where it is. You don’t have a concept of it residing on a physical server - it’s simple out there “in the cloud” somewhere.

That is, in my view, cloud computing. Removing the “isn’t dependent on one piece of hardware” part of my definition would make any server fit the description of cloud computing.

So why are all these people concerned about cloud computing being such a threat to privacy? Cloud computing will allow web-based applications to scale more readily to demand, so perhaps more web-based applications will be hosted in a cloud computing environment. Perhaps it’s also because Google’s online applications (Docs, Calendar, Reader, etc.) are perceived to run in a cloud computing environment and that Google are the custodians of your data. Together with their Adsense technology, it’s assumed that Google know everything about you.

The dangers are, of course, already there. I use Google calendar for all my appointments, so they know whom I know, where I’ve met them and when all my friends’ birthdays are. My news reader of choice is Google Reader. I use Twitter to share my current actions, feeling, learnings, rants. Technorati and Google Blogs index my blog. I used to use Saasu for all my business accounting and billing. Running these applications in a cloud computing environment is not going to make these data any more reconcilable than they already are.

One example given of the privacy concerns was that people will now be able to read your email and see which web sites you’ve visited. Well, I can (but don’t) read all my clients’ emails - they’re stored on my server. My ISP can see every web page I’ve requested (and most of the time its contents) and probably passes that information to Hitwise. Google Analytics knows a fair amount of where I’ve been and what I like.

Caveat lector: I have not managed to determine what Google’s policies are on data stored on Google’s App Engine. If you know, please add a comment to this post.

In my view this is all hype about nothing. We’re no less secure than we were before. The goal posts have not moved, we’ve just been given a different playing field in which to kick our balls around.

And as for Google Chrome being part of this whole cloud computing thing, it’s a browser! It’s as much part of cloud computing as Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer are. Sure, it runs Javascript faster, is apparently less likely to crash completely and might be a superior browser when using online applications. It’s also been said that Chrome could be the Google Operating system that was being talked about many moons ago. Chrome is the operating system that provides access to the applications that reside in the cloud. But it’s still just a browser.

Given my near-paranoid tendencies when it comes to security and privacy, should I be worried?

More Stories By Ben Dechrai

Ben Dechrai is many things, including a technologist, teacher, presenter and hard-core privacy nut, but most of all, he is a passionate supporter of gigantic ideas, minds and goals. A strong advocate of community collaboration, networking and education, Ben has held a number of official positions within Australian Open Source community organisations, including Linux Users of Victoria, Open Source Developers' Club, Melbourne PHP Users Group and BarCampMelbourne.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


CloudEXPO Stories
The platform combines the strengths of Singtel's extensive, intelligent network capabilities with Microsoft's cloud expertise to create a unique solution that sets new standards for IoT applications," said Mr Diomedes Kastanis, Head of IoT at Singtel. "Our solution provides speed, transparency and flexibility, paving the way for a more pervasive use of IoT to accelerate enterprises' digitalisation efforts. AI-powered intelligent connectivity over Microsoft Azure will be the fastest connected path for IoT innovators to scale globally, and the smartest path to cross-device synergy in an instrumented, connected world.
There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
ScaleMP is presenting at CloudEXPO 2019, held June 24-26 in Santa Clara, and we’d love to see you there. At the conference, we’ll demonstrate how ScaleMP is solving one of the most vexing challenges for cloud — memory cost and limit of scale — and how our innovative vSMP MemoryONE solution provides affordable larger server memory for the private and public cloud. Please visit us at Booth No. 519 to connect with our experts and learn more about vSMP MemoryONE and how it is already serving some of the world’s largest data centers. Click here to schedule a meeting with our experts and executives.
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understanding as the environment changes.
Codete accelerates their clients growth through technological expertise and experience. Codite team works with organizations to meet the challenges that digitalization presents. Their clients include digital start-ups as well as established enterprises in the IT industry. To stay competitive in a highly innovative IT industry, strong R&D departments and bold spin-off initiatives is a must. Codete Data Science and Software Architects teams help corporate clients to stay up to date with the modern business digitalization solutions. Achieve up to 50% early-stage technological process development cost cutdown with science and R&D-driven investment strategy with Codete's support.