The demise or otherwise of social bookmarking service Delicious has set tongues wagging across the Internet. Does it mean we can't trust cloud services? Or nothing of the sort? In reality I think this story shows us nothing new, it is just another manifestation of an age old problem. As the old saying goes “if you want something doing, do it yourself”, but you can't do everything yourself so you have to trust other people at some point and that is where risk comes in. One way to reduce that risk is to have alternatives that you can switch to easily (and consequently this is why vendor lock-in can be so dangerous). Fortunately with Delicious there are a number of ready to go alternatives and one I have been experimenting with a self-hosted solution called Scuttle.
Cloud Computing is a hot topic in IT circles right now and many will be keen to try out some of the technology involved to gain an insight into how they or their organisation might be able to benefit from this area. One significant product is the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (also known as Amazon EC2) which offers the promise of a server image that can adjust its specifications to cope with peak demands on a website. Getting started with this product has previously meant a lot of preparation though, lots of reading up on new terms and new ways of doing things and that is before understanding a pricing structure which thanks to its pay as you go nature might work out cost effective, but also takes longer to understand. Fortunately Canonical, the commercial backer of Ubuntu has stepped in and introduced an offer where you can test drive an instance of Ubuntu Server 10.10 on EC2 free of charge for an hour. I decided to take up this opportunity and see what I could learn.
Every time I look at my netbook I keep thinking I've got a new machine, and an expensive one at that, but I haven't, I just installed the new Ubuntu 9.10 (code named Karmic) Netbook Remix on it. The upgrade cost me nothing, not even £25, and I've still got an operating system with designer good looks, a new user interface that even more elegant and user friendly than before. Installing it is easy and everything just seems to work out of the box. The changes in this new release of Ubuntu though are more than just skin deep, and show signs of the cloud based future ahead for computing.