The Cloud and the power cut
The latter was true, the former distinctly not.
I’ve got an energy monitor that displays your current (badum tish) energy consumption, my normal evening power draw is circa 200-300 watts, when the surge hit it spiked to well over 1.4kw, it continued to spike in this manner for over 20 minutes. Even though all my electronic equipment is on surge protectors, I still ran to the circuit breaker to kill the power and then proceeded outside to see how it was affecting the rest of the street. The power surge eventually changed to an all out power cut and with that Honiton road was cast back to the literal dark ages. So grabbing some candles, I wondered round the house checking things out to make sure nothing was on fire, I then I smelled oh so familiar smell of burnt electrical wires and equipment. However with no power I couldn’t check to see if anything was broken, so I went to bed.
On waking the next morning I hustled downstairs and flipped the circuit breaker back on and nothing happened, no lights, nothing.
There was no power, I was cut off.
Now alongside the usual inconveniences of no kettle, hot water or being unable to cook food, I had no internet.
Big deal right? Wrong
Humans are creatures of habit as am I, before walking to work my routine is this Shower, get dressed and then Whilst making and eating breakfast (via laptop or iPod touch):
- Review twitter feeds and respond
- Read/write personal and work email s
- Check news, games and other websites
- Download podcasts & other content for the day
- View e-learning blogs for new content
- Check up on current Chess games
So by the time I walk to work I’m:
- Fully informed of current happenings in the world (useful for generating student polls),
- Have a reasonable idea of what awaits me at my desk (ensures I can hit the ground running)
- Have responded to any mission critical emails (Quality of service is important)
- Already musing about blog posts based on websites I visited that morning
In short I am a more effective employee with the internet at my disposal, I can respond to things quickly, ensuring that if something has gone wrong, by the time I arrive at work, I already know about it and can get on with sorting out.
But not on Tuesday morning (sadly I don’t have an iPhone so I had no external internet connection).
I then realised that my entire online life is based in the Cloud: Google apps, Gmail, Flkr, Twitter, Facebook etc. Nothing resides on my local machine, all the data and content is stored on some data centre and processed on a web server. My machine, be it laptop, pc or iPod only presents that data to me, nothing more. Of course I have some applications installed on my netbook but it is no where near the amount it used to be. If you think about it, you can pretty much do everything you would traditionally use a locally installed application online.
Word processing, Calendars, Spreadsheets are well served by Google apps, photo editing by Flkr, you don’t even have to have a printer in your house as you can use an online printing service that delivers direct to your door.
The only application you need to facilitate this is a web browser, nothing more.
Cloud computing is the future (although one could argue that it’s actually a return to the Mainframe and Dumb terminal relationship from the 1980’s), the device is becoming almost an irrelevance, merely a point of access that enables you to connect to your application and services held on the internet.
The cloud is the future; it’s the next logical step in the evolution of both the PC and the internet, but my experience on Tuesday morning leads me to think it can never replace traditional application access methods until internet access is universal.