There Will be Files (Unfortunately)

It was with some amusement yesterday and today that we watched the twitters alive with discussion about whether there would be files in the cloud. It all started with Fred Wilson’s confusingly-titled blog post “There Will be No Files in the Cloud.” In it, he praised some services that… wait for it… manipulated files in the cloud:

I was in DJ Woooo’s Dance/Electro Turntable room last week. I heard a remix track that was super fun. I hit the button to send the track to Rdio. I went to Rdio and listened to it a few times. Then I went to SoundCloud, found the track and then reblogged it into Tumblr. Not once in that experience did I have to touch a file.

Perhaps I’m just too daft to get what the kool kids do these days, but I don’t actually know what he’s talking about here. From my count, he touched, copied and manipulated files multiple times. Perhaps what he meant is that he didn’t have to download a file, open up a file manager, and then manually select a file from said file manager for upload. But to state that “Not once… did I have to touch a file” is a tad misleading. Behind the scenes, files were being copied like mad and served up from multiple geographical locations.

We (Gluster) don’t really have a dog in this hunt, because we don’t care if you touch files or not. We are file and object agnostic. We are cloud file Switzerland. Ok, that’s not completely true – we actually want storage to change, and we freely admit that our lives would be much easier if we didn’t have to support POSIX and other complexities associated with file management.

Alex Williams wrote a rebuttal at SiliconAngle stating, “Yes, Virginia, there are files in the cloud.” (That’s not the actual title, but I wish it were.) Alex was kind enough to include a nice shout-out to Gluster:

Wilson talks about the beauty of Google Docs. He’s right – it is easier to move a link around then it is a file. A Google Doc item is an object. Gluster is a storage system that allows people to store and access data as an object and as a file. It can be easily replicated and distributed across a cluster of inexpensive hardware with ease and simplicity for people to consume, often through a Web oriented environment.

This is all true, of course. I don’t deny that Fred Wilson’s vision of bypassing file management and file managers is a vast improvement over our current workflow. I think I know what he’s trying to say, but he could have said it better. Yes, there will always be files in the cloud, but they will lie behind an API or service, invisible to the end user, and without the messy file manager paradigm which many of us loathe and have cursed over the years.

Yes, there will be files, but more importantly, there will be services which store, serve up, manipulate, and geographically replicate files whenever and wherever they’re needed, unbeknownst to the end user. From the end user’s perspective, it will all just work, and we’ll all be better for it.

Oh, and everything will be served by GlusterFS 🙂

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