eyeOS: Clouds for the Crowd

Cloud computing from the likes of Google and Amazon has become quite the rage in the last few years. Nick Carr's The Big Switch and other works have pointed toward a future of “utility” computing where we'll all use hosted apps and storage, thanks to the “scale” provided by big back-end companies and their giant hardware and software farms. But, there also has been pushback. Most notable among the nay-sayers is Richard M. Stallman, who calls it “worse than stupidity” and “a trap”.

At issue is control. Of Web apps, RMS says, “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.”

We wrote about it here on LinuxJournal.com, and among the many comments was one that pointed to eyeOS: a cloud computing approach by which people can make their own clouds: “...all you need is a Web server that supports PHP and OpenOffice.org to get the most out of the included office suite”, the commenter said. “It's cloud computing, but at the same time you still have control over your data.”

eyeOS is based in Barcelona, and obviously, it doesn't believe you need to be a Google or anyone special to run a “cloud” Web service environment. Unlike Google's cloud, you don't need to run the eyeOS's hosted apps. You can upload your own or choose ones from eyeOS or other developers. The UI is a virtual desktop, inside a browser (just as with Google), and the initial suite of apps are the straightforward set you'd expect, plus many more. These come with user ratings and a very active set of forums for developers and users.

eyeOS is a commercial company, privately held (and debt-free, it says). Its business model is service and support. If you need help installing eyeOS or adapting apps for your company, they're available.

Doc Searls is editor-in-chief of Linux Journal, where he has been on the masthead since 1996. He is also co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto (Basic Books, 2000, 2010), author of The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), a fellow of the Center for Information Technology & Society (CITS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an alumnus fellow of the Berkman Klien Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. He continues to run ProjectVRM, which he launched at the BKC in 2006, and is a co-founder and board member of its nonprofit spinoff, Customer Commons. Contact Doc through ljeditor@linuxjournal.com.

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