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Rob Williams is a probabilistic Lean coder of Java and Objective-C. Rob is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 171 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Vampires of the Cloud

10.11.2012
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MacObserver ran an hilarious article about how the iPad Mini is competitors' worst nightmare. I particularly love how the dude chose to open with AT&T‘s chairman lying awake at night worrying about iMessage. Here's a clue to the suits out there: if you're lying awake at night worrying about losing a business that you've done nothing to improve, that is basically a source of ludicrous profit-to-work ratio (can't make ratios with a 0, scratch that), you're probably a vampire.

Dawned on me today that Jack T. Ripper's world view in Dr. Strangelove is a variation on the Vampire theme: that something is secretly sapping our essence, sneakily, and it can't be abided: it must be staked before there's no more energy to get it. This applies to tech, too: the innovators keep people focused on the future while a crew of faceless suits file in behind them and try to funnel that enthusiasm into the dullest forms of sustenance: pay-to-ride schemes that make taxation look like a non-profit relief strategy.

The cloud is probably headed to the same place. Just calculating costs on the cloud takes a full-time employee. There are all kinds of ways to get started paying nothing or nearly nothing, but the hooks come out not long after and the whole thing starts feeling like Washington's treatment for Strep Throat. (Okay, turns out there‘s an updated diagnosis here: epiglottitis.)

I've been using EC2 for quite a quite a while now, but other offerings started to hit my radar because there are quite a few where you can put up an app that hasn't attracted an audience and end up not paying too much. The first one was OpenShift, by Red Hat, but when I first looked, there was no db. If I'm going to put my nascent app on RDS, I am not going to save that much going on OpenShift. Then I looked at Heroku. I'm really getting burned out on deploying my apps to EC2 through Jenkins: hot deploy in Tomcat, 10+ years on, is still as appealing as the idea of strapping a pack to a donkey and attempting to ascend Everest. Just doing a push looks appealing. Finally looked at Heroku: wow, you can get a db, but it has to be postgres. Not sure that's worth the trouble, getting my stuff out of MySQL.

So I went back to EC2. Wow, they have a new free tier. But it's only for new customers and lasts for a year.

Is this where we're at now? Jeff Bezos got up and bragged at his last bug-eyed photo op that he liked to make money when his customers used things. Seriously, bro? Okay, I want to come over to your house and watch you use Instant Video. I got a Samsung that had it built-in, using Yahoo Widgets. Given the choice of watching this season of Dexter on that setup and giving anesthesia-free root canal a try, I'd opt for the latter. And finding stuff on Amazon Instant Video is laughably awful. You set your little filters and browse, and browse, and invariably end up finding things that cost money. Leaving you wondering, "Wait, how much time do I have to spend each month to make myself feel marginally better about my Prime Membership?" Let me go out on a limb, Jeff: this is not going to be used as a paradigmatic case at business schools in the future.

The whole idea of the cloud is that you should pay for what you're using. I bet EC2's margins on people who are using almost nothing are a HUGE portion of their overall profit picture (making them a co-Vampire with ATT). And while Bezos is taking his holier-than-thou digs at Apple, let's remember: the iPhone 5 costs most people two hundred bucks for something that required a MASSIVE amount of work (engineering, software, delivery, etc.). You could spend that amount on a couple of programming books on Amazon for convenient download to your Kindle in the bat of an eye. I don't think tech books are any cheaper since electronic distro. And remind me, what did Amazon do for its cut of those $70/80/100 books? Yeah, bubkiss.

 

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