With summer vacations, a renewed interest in taking (and sharing) photos, and a little more free time, I’ve started to revamp my personal website. My personal website is primarily a vehicle for storing and share my photos with family and friends. It may seem very old fashioned in this web 2.0 era, but the site runs on an actual server (albeit VM) in my basement. Over the years though, the picture collection has grown to a little over 10,000 photos and the site itself has been neglected by me from an esthetic and technical point of view. I set out to change that.
For years, I have used a plain Jane ASP script that was hobbled together from various pieces of code to read a directory structure on my web server and then thumbnail and present the images on the site. Worked fine but I wanted to spruce it up a bit and figured rather than re-invent the wheel, I’d see if there was anything out there in the public domain already.
With Facebook, MySpace, Picasa, YouTube and the host of other free available services for users, the code for hosting your own images all but dried up. There were a couple of promising software packages out there (Gallery and Coppermine were recommended) but they didn’t seem to fit my needs exactly.
I started to think about going the Facebook or Picasa route but uploading 10k+ images just didn’t seem practical. The whole experience got me thinking about cloud in general and the challenges facing clients and companies. Some of the challenges I grappled with while deciding on the move to the cloud included :
Migration : Moving all of my data into the cloud seemed very daunting. Locally it is pretty well organized and moving it would probably result in me having to organize it differently.
Trust : This was a big one for me. I imagined uploading all of my pictures to FB and then watching it fall out of favor (aka MySpace) and not being able to get the data out. Or worse, unimaginable circumstances would cause it shut down and that would be it. All the pictures would be gone. Commercial cloud providers have a level of accountability greater than the consumer ‘free/beta’ services but there is still a level of trust that you must come to terms with.
Cost : What happens if they start charging! or change the terms of service. Getting that data in and out doesn’t seem to easy as the volume grows.
Control : Once the data was in the cloud, I would lose much of my control over it from an integration standpoint. With the data local, I am free to purchase Picture Frames, TVs, Set top boxes, etc.. that should be able to use the data without much issue. Enter the cloud and that becomes a tad more difficult. Only Facebook approved software would really play nice in this scenario.
In the end, I decided to keep the data local in my basement and try to update the existing code base to do what I wanted it to do. My backups on the other hand are firmly planted in the sky.