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Your data is the cloud's best bartering tool

Open source gives users control of the cloud, which is precisely why cloud vendors will never go there.

TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid asks, "Since when did my data become a bartering tool?"

Answer? Ever since we started ceding control of our code and our data to the cloud.

One response is easy: demand that the underlying source code behind Web services be open source. No, 99.999 percent of the population won't be able to do anything with it. But .001 percent will, and that's the percentage required to ensure that your data remains your data. The interim response is, of course, competition simply based on data retention policies.

Kincaid's complaint stems from Web mail providers purging user e-mail in order to free up storage and drive the upselling of premium Web mail products. Surely, if Yahoo is wreaking havoc with a user's email, another provider can offer a better retention policy to stick a finger in Yahoo's eye.

But this competition gets teeth with open source, which is why the Web mail providers won't go down that road--and why we need them to do so.