mainframe -> minicomputer -> PC -> smartphone
Posted Jun 23, 2012 5:19 UTC (Sat) by djao
In reply to: mainframe -> minicomputer -> PC -> smartphone
Parent article: Why We're Fighting for an Open Cloud (Linux.com)
I think the lack of administrative overhead in the current generation of cloud services is a big difference compared to previous incarnations of NFS, telnet, ssh, and so on.
With NFS, in addition to installing all the client and server software, you need to configure the server software, and on the client you need to know which server and which directory your remote filesystem resides on, and configure your client to mount this share manually.
With distributed filesystems like AFS, the configuration steps are easier than NFS, but the initial installation of the software (especially on the server side) is a huge pain.
The older protocols were not very robust. Of course they all required a working network connection on the part of the client. In addition, if your NFS or AFS server goes down, your client machines are left high and dry.
If you compare NFS or AFS with Dropbox then you'll notice that Dropbox offers a big jump in functionality compared with the previous solutions. Now I am not a big fan of Dropbox and in fact I have some serious concerns about their approach to security and privacy, but I am speaking solely of functionality here.
Dropbox involves no server administration whatsoever. They take care of all that for you. They even take care of backups (at least, I hope they do). On the client side, you need to install their program, and that's it. There is almost zero client configuration necessary -- just type in your username and password and you're done. It works everywhere: Windows, Mac, Linux, phones, tablets, you name it. If you're offline it will just sync your changes when you're back online. You can share a particular file or directory with any other user anywhere in the world, with almost no overhead: just click the folder and type in the recipient's email address. This is almost impossible to do with NFS, and scales very badly on NFS if N users at different sites are sharing files with M recipients at different sites.
Certainly the cloud takes some inspiration from what came before but it's wrong to say that the cloud adds nothing new.
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