When the co-founder of Apple talks, people tend to listen. This week Steve Wozniak warned that "horrible problems" may be lurking beneath the surface of the cloud craze.
Cloud-computing – whereby companies ‘rent’ software over the internet rather than installing it on their own machines and upload data to be stored on remote servers – is widely touted as the only way forward in 21st century.
Yet Wozniak this week was outspoken about the risks he sees in cloud computing. “I really worry about everything going to the cloud,” Wozniak said at a seminar in Washington this week. “I think it's going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years,” he added.
The problem, Wozniak said, is that users effectively sign away ownership of the data through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider. “I want to feel that I own things,” he said. "A lot of people feel, 'Oh, everything is really on my computer,' but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we're going to have control over it.”
Fear-mongering aside, for organisations prepared to take the cloud-plunge there is a long list of significant benefits. Peter Howes, vice president of SAP’s cloud arm SuccessFactors, recently told ITwire that the best analysis of HR issues came when companies meshed their hard HR data with the softer sort of information found in employee surveys and engagement scores – a task which is made immeasurably simpler by cloud technology.
Research by Deloitte also found that 84% of Australian companies have either already begun transforming, or plan to transform their HR functions towards cloud computing, and the reason couldn’t be more straightforward: cost-cutting.
Organisations that already have, or will be, implementing cloud technologies cited their chief motivators as:
No licensing fees
No additional infrastructure required
Maintenance is automatically carried out by the provider
Minimal training, most use a web 2.0 style interface
HR can connect to all the facilities online, anywhere in the world
Free trial periods. Unlike traditional software licensing models where there are ongoing fees and annual maintenance costs, using a cloud means a company can move on without any strings attached.
Wozniak quit Apple in 1987 after 12 years, before teaching primary school and conducting guest lectures.