I’ve recently developed an interest in cloud computing. As this is a photography blog, I’ve decided to perform an experiment to see whether it’s worth our time for photographers to move to The Cloud. First, what is cloud computing? The goal of cloud computing is to provide users with constant access to their software and data from anywhere using any device. You’re probably already a part of the cloud just by using web-based email. Your emails sit on a server “in the cloud” and you can get access to them from anywhere with a browser. Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are the big players in the cloud computing arena, offering lots of free or cheap storage. Microsoft and Google both offer an entire suite of free office software that runs entirely in your browser. It’s up to the user to decide whether it’s worth trusting one of these companies with their data in exchange for a lot of convenience. Convenience that lasts only as long as a constant internet connection is maintained. Trade-offs abound.
What does this have to do with photography?
Just as there are office apps that run in the browser, there are also photo-editing apps. Are these apps as good as their desktop counterparts? That’s what I aim to find out.
What are the benefits of cloud computing to photographers?
- Persistent backups
- Instant sharing with clients, friends and family
- No need for 5 TB hard drives and supercomputers
- Access to photos and software from anywhere – edit photos from the computer in the hotel lobby or at grandma’s house
And the drawbacks?
- Software choice
- Cost – large storage plans can get pricey while good hardware keeps getting cheaper
- RAW processing – see software choice
- Trust – forced to trust that Microoglesoftazon will keep your data safe and private
- Internet connection is mandatory
- Calibration – colors on different devices vary wildly
Using Windows or Linux or OSX will make it too easy to cheat and use familiar desktop tools. Therefore, I will be using Joli OS, the installed version of Jolicloud. Jolicloud is a free operating system based on Ubuntu Linux that can run entirely in a browser. When installed on a computer, Joli OS is essentially just a big browser window. There are some apps that run locally such as GIMP, but for the most part everything it runs must be a webapp. Joli OS provides some local storage space, but I am going to treat it as a temporary place to store my data before flinging it up into the cloud.
I want to see what it takes to get a batch of RAW files from my camera processed and stored in the cloud using only Joli OS running on a laptop. The only rule is that I must do the entire process from either Joli OS or a browser. I’ll document my frustrations and my successes on this blog. Whatever my conclusion turns out to be, I know I’ll learn a lot along the way.