Victus Spiritus


Jeff Says Sorry, But Amazon is Still You're Admin

25 Jul 2009


Jeff Bezos formally apologized a couple of days ago for pulling stolen data off of customer Kindles. It was a genuine request for forgiveness from a CEO (pretty good stuff Jeff). But that doesn't change the fact that Amazon is still the administrator of your hardware. The frighteningly fast growing trend is for new technology to be remotely administrated and updated. Why is this frightening? I've put together a short list of reasons why losing local administrator rights for an individual or business is bad.

  1. You no longer own your most valuable software product, your data. Someone else is now responsible for it.
  2. An external group is responsible for controlling what you see and hear. They censor what they feel diminishes their platform (iPhone app store).
  3. Vital services can be shut off, a great example of this is telecom companies shutting down features in smart phones (verizon had deactivated GPS by default)
  4. What about when companies you make purchases from cease to exist? Now who is the admin of your product if it retains any functionality or value? If you purchase a book or game can you continue to read or play it. With the wide scale adoption of modern subscription systems (DRM) once an entity ceases to support those services most if not all functionality is lost. Legacy systems that have the equivalent of an insurance policy may allow for continued usage but only through careful preplanning and expense. The good news is, more businesses will be doing this end of life, type of planning.

Cloud Computing Issues

I'm actually a fan of cloud services for applications where it makes sense. Here are just a few pros to cloud computing so as not to portray too narrow a view:

You can say what you want about Microsoft, but on your own pcs and servers you were still the admin. There you can go ahead and install whatever software you wish. Not so with several cloud options or remote hosting. Special permission must be granted for ssh (terminal) access now, and even then, only limited admin rights are given on virtual machines (too limit security risks to other accounts).

Cloud based solutions remove your data from your control, and only redundant systems can be relied on. Many Internet businesses provide services, products and information that need to be available 24/7 and are business critical.

While fast response time is critical for cloud services, having big contracts with out of house administrators makes local reliability an issue worth considering.


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