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Stallman Bashes Cloud Computing, Is It Sour Grapes?

Richard Stallman, an open source advocate, recently said cloud computing is stupid.

Software GNU

Speaking with The Guardian (UK), the open source advocate went on the offensive, calling cloud computing "stupid," and comparing it to a proprietary system where users loose all control.

"It's stupidity. It's worse than stupidity: it's a marketing hype campaign," Stallman told The Guardian.

Cloud computing, of course, has travelled a long road before becoming the latest buzz word to sweep through the IT industry. Originally, "the cloud" was what you saw on a chart between your computer and a database. The information that was entered into a computer would go off into the cloud and then be reconstituted on the other side as viable and useful information.

More recently, cloud computing has taken on with companies like Salesforce.com. It's an important part of Software as a Service (SaaS) and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). But Stallman doesn't believe that using Web-based programs is a smart move.

"One reason you should not use web applications to do your computing is that you lose control," Stallman said. "It's just as bad as using a proprietary program. Do your own computing on your own computer with your copy of a freedom-respecting program. If you use a proprietary program or somebody else's web server, you're defenseless. You're putty in the hands of whoever developed that software."

Stallman may have a point, but it's important to note that he believes that everything should be developed through a community.

But the reality of the world just isn't that simple and there are customers will to pay for the functionality of Salesforce.com's product. Still, Stallman believes that those customers are just being duped.

"Somebody is saying this is inevitable -- and whenever you hear somebody saying that, it's very likely to be a set of businesses campaigning to make it true," Stallman said.

Larry Ellison recently weighed in on the matter during Oracle's annual financial analyst meeting last week, saying cloud computing is fashionable.

"The interesting thing about cloud computing is that we've redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do. I can't think of anything that isn't cloud computing with all of these announcements. The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women's fashion. Maybe I'm an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is it? It's complete gibberish. It's insane. When is this idiocy going to stop," Ellison said.

Stallman and Ellison are both industry notables, but they may have different motives in driving their criticism of cloud computing. Perhaps Stallman feels that cloud computing has ripped away a budding open source renaissance; Ellison may feel that he and his company missed an opportunity to capture a cash cow that's just now becoming ripe.

Either way, both men have an axe to grind with cloud computing. Unfortunately for each of them, the cloud computing movement is going to continue trudging forward -- even if it is a buzz word.

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