Microsoft’s Sidekick debacle brings much-hyped ‘cloud’ back to Earth

Over the last year, the technology sector has become enamored with the possibilities of the "cloud." That’s the computing paradigm that allows consumers to forget about storing their software and data on local hard drives — where it can be vulnerable to electrical surges and soft-drink spillage — and let  companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft worry about keeping it safe, the Los Angeles Times reports. But last week, a hole was poked in the cloud’s massive hype bubble. Microsoft Corp. and T-Mobile Inc., the respective maker and carrier of the Sidekick mobile device, acknowledged a "service disruption" that cut off most users of the device from large amounts of personal data — contacts, calendars, personal notes and more — that were stored in Microsoft’s cloud. Initially pessimistic about their data recovery efforts, the companies on Monday released a more sanguine forecast, saying that "the prospects of recovering some lost content may now be possible." (For close readers, note the number of conditional nouns and verbs in that sentence — not very confidence-inspiring.)   But the larger questions may be how this incident will affect attitudes about the dependability of cloud computing, or if it should affect them at all. In places where the cloud is now on trial — in Los Angeles City Hall, for one — decision makers may have one more reason to be suspicious of its many promises.

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