I am increasingly concerned about the fragility of the Internet. With our data living more and more in the cloud, we are vulnerable when networks fail. Without email, without the documents I’m writing or editing, I have to sit out any network blackout that takes place. This happens to me more often than I’d like – probably a couple of times a month in my home office. I’m on Comcast cable for my connectivity, and though I frequently get 10 megabits/second of bandwidth, and almost always have at least 1.5 mbs, there are times when it gets so unreliable it might as well not be there, and then there are times when it just stops working for a couple of hours.
Well, I think that ultimately the cloud is going to be partially collocated in your home or office, as well as off in some big server farm in Oregon (or pick any other state – you’re probably right). I think this will be solved by a combination of local storage (Network Attached Storage [NAS] perhaps, which is what I use right now), local processing power (I have a big computer in the studio and my portable computer can be used to control it), and remote processing and delivery of certain services that really belong out in the cloud closer to the customer.
Oh, and maybe I’d better look at the fine print in my Comcast contract – I am purchasing a “home” Internet service, and of course I am doing business-related tasks here every day. They probably don’t deliver the same kind of reliability to homes as they deliver to businesses. But I’m not the only one doing this, and if you combine the current rage for netbook computers and the current state of affairs in connectivity, it leaves us pretty vulnerable to outages.
Some netbook references:
- Netbook on Wikipedia (this is not the best or most complete article it could be, but it’s a start)
- Larry Ellison’s ideas about the network computer
- The ASUS eee PC (I saw three teens opening the box and oogling a new one outside Best Buy yesterday on a warm afternoon – they couldn’t wait to get it going) – look at their web site – this machine is clearly for (young) teens – these kids in the ads must have an average age of 14
- The OLPC laptop, which in many ways, but not all, is a netbook
- Is the iPod Touch a baby netbook waiting to grow up?
- Dick Tracy wrist-radio (is it a cellphone? is it a netbook? aw shucks, is it anything at all?)
This whole article is a precursor to a longer article about cloud computing’s role in our future, and inspired by a series of reports by JD Lasica.