Carriers kill the cloud

Cloud based technology is likely to wither as other interest groups in the industry conspire to kill it off.

We have already seen how the US Patriot Act will force US cloud operators to give foreign data to the CIA. This means that European IT managers will have to justify to shareholders why they gave secret R&D information to American rivals.

Meanwhile in the US, where Big Content is already lobbying against cloud based entertainment services, it seems that Carriers have decided to cut off cloud-based consumers for using too much data.

Wired has reported how Andre Vrignaud, a 39-year-old gaming consultant in Seattle, was shut off from the internet for the crime of using more than 250 GB of data on Comcast two months in a row.

What he did not realise was that Comcast, who he was paying $60 a month for a 15Mbps download speed, was counting uploads against the quota as well. He switched his online backup system to the cloud-based Carbonite service.

Vrignaud has a lot of data he shares with the cloud. His music is ripped into lossless FLAC format, in addition to lower rates, amounting to about a gig a disk — which he stores in a basement RAID server that can handle 12 TB of data.

He saves his snaps in RAW format, which can run to about 10MB per image and has also signed up to Amazon’s cloud music service. He batch-converted his collection and began uploading it. All this walloped his uploading bandwidth.

Comcast thinks that it is arguing about file sharing. Spokesman Charlie Douglas was quoted saying that the 250 GB limit, which it imposed in October 2008 after agreeing to not throttle peer-to-peer traffic, is intended to keep users like Vrignaud from impacting their neighbours.

But the problem is that with cloud-based services being more consumer orientated, those bandwidth caps are proving to be useless. High bandwidth will apply to everyone, even if they are not filesharing.

The telcos have not woken up to this idea yet, and are still refusing to invest in enough network bandwidth to deal with the new developments.

Comcast, for example, has been keeping its 250 GB cap since 2008. It has adopted better technology called DOCSIS that lets them send more and more data through the same size tubes.

However this has mostly been used to keep the speed of the connection up, which has a bit more marketing sales life.

Comcast is not the only one. AT&T recently slapped a 150 GB per month cap on its DSL service and Time Warner Cable tried out services with extremely low caps, and backtracked after protests.

While big companies can afford big pipes and negotiate deals with telcos, SMBs and consumers, who were supposed to be beneficiaries of the cloud revolution, will be excluded from the party.

This will mean the likes of Microsoft, which was hoping for the numbers signing up to cloud based visions to make up for the lost cost of software, will be hugely out of pocket. Unless something changes, they will have to pull out of cloud-based plans.