The costs of percloud, vs anything else

The percloud is like email and schoolbuses. Not like Facebook.

My Percloud (PERmanent/PERsonal CLOUD) proposal is about a software tool meant to offer a realistic alternative to Facebook and similar services, as soon as possible.

The software architecture is such that any SELF-FORMED community hosting organization, cooperative or not, can use it to carry on its own, freely assumed mission to (help) “replace Facebook” in a better, way more scalable way than making everybody go for any SINGLE, global platform.

I have been asked many, many times “how the percloud would pay for itself”. One of those times was on a mailing list, in march 2018. This post is a synthesis of what I answered in that occasion.

Achieve growth? Or a foundation?

The right way to evaluate the costs of developing and offering perclouds, and how much it would really need to “achieve growth” and reach “mass adoption” is to compare the percloud proposal with email. If I develop a new open source email server, I do NOT need to “achieve growth”. I just need it to work according to existing protocols. Then, whoever wants it just goes and uses it to be instantaneously connected with everybody else online via email. It’s not up to me the developer of the server to help the single organizations, cooperatives or not, or to market to their users.

There needs not to be a global coordination to make email work, other than install and run for your users something compliant with the existing standards. With personal clouds built and packaged as a service as I suggest, it would be the same.

The only thing that should exist as one independent entity that yes, needs money, is the organization that develops, tests, maintains the software… without actually hosting perclouds itself. Like the Apache foundation, that handles development of the Apache web server used by many millions of websites. Without bothering for one second about who pays the hosting bills of each of those websites.

So the problem, albeit still BIG, is way, way simpler than going for “global platforms” to replace other global platforms.

Think school buses

The costs of percloud, vs anything else /img/schoolbus.jpg

Imagine we’re a citizen committee discussing how to make all students from one neighborhood go to one downtown school. There are two proposals on the table:

Proposal A is “let’s buy one schoolbus and hire a driver”.

Proposal B is “let’s buy and maintain enough cars that every parent can drive his kids at school every day”

I honestly feel as if I were proposing (A), and the people proposing (B) were saying “no, sorry, we can’t take seriously this proposal, unless you detail how you would find the money to get and maintain that bus and its driver”… where the only things I AM SURE of are that:

  • (B) would cost muuuuuch more than (A)
  • even if it were much easier to find sponsors willing to give 1M USD for (B) than one tenth of that for (A), that solution would not make any positive impact on other problems I consider crucial, e.g. traffic congestion

You first, please

I DO know that there is still a lot of work to do to give satisfying answers to “how does [getting perclouds to the masses] pays for itself”. I’m not ignoring that. What I am saying is simply that:

  1. I am sure that my solution would surely cost 100 times less than the others, say (just as an example) 1000 USD/year instead of 100K USD/year, to serve LARGE numbers of the people who will never install and run social networking software, or email servers, by themselves
  2. It makes NO sense to ask “how would giving perclouds to say 1M people of those people pay for itself”… if bringing your alternative to the same number of the same people requires much more capital from the beginning and/or all to ONE organization, because it cannot be equally scalable, or federated. Sorry, it’s the other way around. First you prove that the alternative is less expensive, and only AFTER that we figure out together how to fund it
  3. And until I am proven wrong on those orders of magnitude, I am NOT going to bother too much about how to find those 1000 USD/year. Even IF I had the time to do it, which I do not have. But I do feel the obligation to tell others who are fixed on 100K usd/year solutions that maybe they are not looking in the best direction.