Three major technology companies –Google, Amazon and Microsoft– have done with cyberspace what Russia, China and the United States did with the real world.
Today, knowing it or not, loving it or not, three big technology companies have forced the world to accept to live in their clouds.
What’s wrong with living in the clouds?
Cloud space is an oligopoly. This is the most obvious ‘bad’. There are two or three options since all the other supposed options also depend on the triumvirate.
What else is wrong?
Being in the cloud is an obligation. People and companies must adopt ‘cloud computing’ to survive. Even the least important service is inevitably linked to the cloud.
If your business, or part of it, is not in the cloud, it is considered a little less than tech heresy. Cloud computing has become one of those essential technologies of the digital revolution.
The mantra that is always used is that big data will save your company. The most dedicated choose to develop it by themselves, the so-called private clouds are quite unusual. On the other hand, public clouds, designed by third parties, hybrids, a mixture of both, are the most common types.
Amazon, Microsoft and Google dominate 76% of the market, according to studies by Gartner and Goldman Sachs. The company founded by Jeff Bezos alone has almost half of the users.
Alibaba appears in the distance, in an attempt to make the oligopoly speak some Chinese. As has happened with so many other technologies, those who arrived first have hardly left room for the laggards.
Another big problem with cloud computing is that building one is not a task that anyone can take on due to the cost of building the infrastructure, such as data centers, and services, such as information processing. There are no mom and pop’s cloud services because the power of the big three is incomparable.
They have created the current oligopoly for their innovative effort and for their effort in the development of the platforms. We talk about thousands and billions of euros that simply go unmatched.
Given this situation, different voices have risen to ask the Administrations to take action on the matter. If the cloud is so crucial, why not break the dependence on this triumvirate?
At least that’s how Nick Srnicek, a professor at King’s College in London and author of the book Capitalism of Platforms, sees it.
“I think it is a powerful argument to have these companies under state control, as long as some type of public ownership cannot be exercised. We already talk about public goods,” he explains.
The European Commission itself, under the initiative of the European Digital Agenda, has developed a public cloud for researchers and scientists, called Open Science Cloud, which aims to extend to other areas.
The key to everything is the so-called technological sovereignty and that should be something that countries should look for. It is not that countries cannot be connected to Big Tech’s cloud services, but that they should not solely depend on them to carry out The People’s work.
Three weeks ago, Angela Merkel was the cover of the Financial Times talking about Gaia-X, the mainland project to create a European cloud. There is enormous tension in Europe because of the inability of national governments to set standards.
Merkel admitted that her country is way behind giants like Google, Amazon or Microsoft, and added that this fact worries her a lot, along with data processing, industrial or consumer data, that right now is taken care of by American companies. “We enter into a dependency relationship that will not be good in the long term,” she warned.
Has the time come to consider the cloud a new public service, where The People and governments have the power to determine how data is handled?