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Re: Please let's not talk about "clouds"

On 21 April 2013 07:26, Chris Fordham <chris.fordham@rightscale.com> wrote:
> Personally, I don't understand why Debian Cloud needs a philosophy at all. Doing so puts us at risk of making such strange statements that also don't exactly come across positive either.
> On Sun, Apr 21, 2013 at 11:05 AM, Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org> wrote:
>> The nebulous term "cloud computing" refers to many different
>> scenarios, and they raise different issues.  Thus, attempting
>> to discuss "the issue of cloud computing" is an invitation
>> to go astray.  It is setting out on the wrong path.
>> One specific case, which is specific enough to say something about, is
>> SaaS (software as a service).  The article
>> http://wiki.debian.org/Cloud/www.d.o-draft/philoshphy compares SaaS to
>> various things, but I think those comparisons are all mistaken.
>> A library is nothing like SaaS.  A library is, traditionally, a place
>> where you look at others' publications.  The Internet analogue of a
>> library is a ordinary web site such as gnu.org.
>> The postal system is nothing like SaaS.  The post office is a system
>> of communication.  The Internet analogue of the post office is email,
>> or the Internet itself, used in the end-to-end form that it was
>> designed for.
>> A restaurant is nothing like SaaS.  A restaurant sells a product that
>> you consume, and that's not much like any digital activity.
>> Food varies in regard to nutrition and taste, but it always goes in
>> the same opening and gets digested the same way.  Food is consumed;
>> using digital data does not consume it, and doing computational
>> activity is not consuming anything except electricity.
>> Computing carries out a wide variety of activities, nothing like the
>> uniformity of eating.  Food can be unhealthy, but it can't be used to
>> spy on you or manipulate you in subtle ways, not even if it is
>> drugged.  Thus, food is not comparable to software.  The analogy is
>> misleading.
>> What is SaaS?  SaaS means doing your own computing on a server run by
>> someone else.  It means losing control over your computing.  A better
>> term for it could be SaaSS: Service as a Software Substitute.  It
>> means that instead of doing your computing the right way -- by running
>> your copy of a free program -- you hand your computing over to someone
>> else, who has total control over it.
>> Usimg SaaSS is equivalent to running a nonfree program with spyware
>> and a universal back door (capable of forcible remote installation of
>> software changes).  There is no way to make SaaSS ok.
>> However, other network services are a totally different issue.  For
>> instance, the Debian servers distribute copies of software.  That's a
>> different kind of activity, and raises different issues.  The only
>> thing that can be bad about this is if the software is nonfree.
>> "Cloud computing" is the wrong kind of generalization -- it includes
>> cases that raise totally different issues.  To have a sensible
>> discussion we should focus first on the different kinds of network
>> services, to see which of them are inherently bad and find the ethical
>> rules for the other kinds.
>> --
>> Dr Richard Stallman
>> President, Free Software Foundation
>> 51 Franklin St
>> Boston MA 02110
>> USA
>> www.fsf.org  www.gnu.org
>> Skype: No way! That's nonfree (freedom-denying) software.
>>   Use Ekiga or an ordinary phone call
>> --
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> --
> Chris Fordham
> Cloud Solutions Engineer
> RightScale Inc.
> Direct: +61 2 9037 2780
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> Cell: +61 423 003 417
> Skype: chris.fordham.rs
> Email: chris.fordham@rightscale.com

I agree with Richard and would like to add that having a philosophy about "the cloud" may be futile, since the guidelines it provides can't possibly be more specific than the term "cloud" itself.
The discussion and philosophy might simply require more concrete targets. As an example, publishing images for Debian to be used "in the cloud" is actually nothing more than publishing images of Debian that can be launched in virtualized environments. Those environments are manifold and do not require a generic label except "virtualized".

Now, as for the *aaS terms, I think that they are notoriously "nebulous" as well and really only serve to confuse the subject matter, it's marketing speak that has made its way into the field of computer science. Let's just strike these words from our vocabularies.

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