18 January 2010

The China Syndrome

I have never been a fan of China. When history is written over the next fifty years, assuming that there is a literate civilization left to record history, Nixon's opening of China will be understood as the greatest blunder in the history of mankind. But China has done the good thing, from the parochial perspective of this endeavor. China has killed the Cloud. And I couldn't be happier.

There have been rumblings in the trade press and wider media about the China Problem (as well as the Russian and Bulgarian, etc.). Most recently, Google's threat to pull out of China over censorship and hacking is the cause celebre. That these events, or somethings quite like them, would play out were obvious years ago. China has simply renamed communism as state assisted capitalism, which itself is just fascism renamed to suit American corporations.

Could there be any reason to believe that the Chinese oligarches would embrace democracy? No, and American corporations would never have gone there if it had. Corporations cleave to fascism, not democracy. Corporations crave protection by the state from the populous. It is not a coincidence that corporations always outsource to autocratic countries, or simply create such a government where they wish to do business. United Fruit comes to mind.

The problem with doing deals with devils is that devils don't often keep the deal, when the deal even appears to threaten their positions of largess. And so China has put Google in a spot. If Google does what corporations always do, care only about this quarter's profits, they must acquiesce. If Google attempts to do what their propaganda proclaims, Don't Be Evil, they lose some or all of this market.

But the implication is far wider. The Internet is inherently insecure. The fact that Internet Explorer continually vomits up some hair ball is only a minor symptom. The Internet is capable only of serving of public documents to the public. There is nothing secure, and was never designed or intended to be, in this process. The bandaid of SSL is just that, a bandaid. Here is the one sentence description in Wikipedia (couldn't have said it better meself): "Early research efforts toward transport layer security included the Secure Network Programming (SNP) application programming interface (API), which in 1993 explored the approach of having a secure transport layer API closely resembling Berkeley sockets, to facilitate retrofitting preexisting network applications with security measures."

So now, there are stories about companies keeping real data not just off the net, but in Faraday cages. For those not familiar, "Enemy of the State" shows one. Gene Hackman's character's lair is a Faraday cage. I don't recall off hand whether he uses the term. In any case, the purpose of a Faraday cage is to keep signals that are inside, inside; and signals that are outside, outside. No cloud here.

As the shenanigans of China, Russia (and all those other autocracies that Corporate America just can't help nuzzling up to) get increasingly aggressive, and they will you betcha, cloud may still be around; but it won't be supporting anything much more important than Aunt Sally's birthday party videos. Real data will stay, or move back to, corporate control. It will have to. Corporate titans may not care about your compromised credit card. They care very much about keeping their own shenanigans very secure. Can't do that with Cloud Data. And that will be a good thing for smart databases, and SSDs, and all of the forward thinking notions to which this endeavor is dedicated.

1 comment:

Roboprog said...

You called that one right. There is no way in Hell my employer's database is leaving the co-lo / DMZ and going on the cloud. (it's a sign your name in blood type of security issue for biz-to-biz type of operations)

OTOH, the cloud will probably work just fine for Aunt Sally's multi-player online gaming :-) Don't diss the cloud too much. There probably are a large number of casual use services that don't really need dedicated servers, and have relatively little intensively cross referenced data, just some lightweight identity fodder and transient "conversational" data. OK, I'm pulling terms out out of my nose, but the point is to have options, as long as they are chosen intelligently.

I also happen to agree regarding the corporatism vs populism standpoint, but that seems more a topic for the Dr. Keynes site...

P.S. - blogspot needs to add Yahoo to its OpenID list.