Thoughts on local versus remote storage.

I was downloading something tonight (legally!), and was impressed with how fast it came down. It was not that it was anything outstanding by today’s standards, but it got me thinking (especially with the trend towards storing more in the cloud and processing more in the cloud).

It reminded me of something that hit me back in the late 90s (somewhere in there, at least). At the time, I downloaded a lot of utilities and other games and toys and stuff from the Internet – freeware and shareware stuff – and whenever I would download something, I would generally back it up to a floppy. Then one night I was watching something I had just downloaded copy to a floppy, and it struck me that it was actually taking longer to move it to the floppy than it had taken to download it.

And now things are going much the same way. Most software installs I download (these days it is Microsoft stuff, mostly, but some open source stuff as well), it is not worth backing up because I can re-download it much more quickly that I can restore it from back up.

We are rapidly reaching the point where local storage of anything but the most immediately useful stuff is just not important – if it is store somewhere out there in the cloud, I can get it back faster the restoring it locally.

Then again, I think of what happens if there is some sort of disaster – of course in that situation I am more worried that all of our data and knowledge is electronic and not physical like a good book. But what about situations like what happened with the SideKick last year. Do you ever really stop and wonder how permanent the data you have out there in cloud really is?

Thoughts in the Middle of the Night

I am just coming off an all-nighter – it has been a long time since I got so wrapped up in coding that I worked all night.

After I got to tired to code effectively, I got reading some blogs and thinking on various topics. One the things I was thinking about (obviously not for the first time) is the whole open source software movement. As always, there is a fair amount rhetoric out there regarding the superiority of open source software, the TCO of OSS applications, the advantages of development under the open source model, etc., and even conjecture about the ultimate demise of all non-OSS development.

A number of questions have always nagged at me about the claims of OSS:

  1. Believers frequently claim that OSS produces better software, with “better” defined in various ways – fewer defects, better functionality, more secure, etc. Is there empirical data to support this on a broad scale? Yes, there are examples frequently given, but usually it is a comparison of one or more highly successful OSS project against one or more bad examples of commercial, closed-source applications. Is there any broad, unbiased comparison of large numbers of OSS projects to large number of non-OSS projects?
  2. Similarly, Believers often claim that the process of open source development is much more efficient, effective, and innovative that its non-OSS counterparts. Again, OSS success stories are frequently compared to horror stories form the non-OSS world. Is there any large scale, unbiased comparison out there? For example, it is often quoted the a very large percentage of software projects are late, over-budget, or complete failures. Is the open source world any better? People always talk about the successes of OSS, but take a browse around SourceForge some time – there are a huge number of projects there that are never completed, never deliver anything, never get past Alpha, etc. The OSS statistics always seem to be somewhat selective.
  3. Many people predict the demise of closed-source development (and have for a long time). Are there any clear statistics out there as to the number of developers working on OSS versus non-OSS development (I know, many do both). Or is there information as to the economic force of OSS versus non-OSS – how much economic activity in the IT world is driven by OSS?

I don’t have answers to any of these right now – just some thoughts which occurred to me through the night – hopefully I will have time to dig deeper into this over the next while.

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