Hopefully, your children and grandchildren won’t be repeating this statement a few years from now. Everywhere you turn today, someone is trying to compel you to embrace the Cloud. Every ecosystem has a solution, along with a myriad of independents. And now OEMs are joining the party. But the Cloud, and the Web in general, are only as good as your connection. What good is moving all of your vital stuff to the Cloud if you can’t access it where and when you want to.
Mobile carriers have made some significant improvements (finally) the past few years. And although I don’t travel for a living anymore, the LTE connection in my local fiefdom appears to be pretty reliable. At least as reliable as the Palm.net connection I had in 1998 (at almost the same price). Note that I am talking about “reliable” here, not necessarily fast. But this rant is focused on home connections, where we become more dependent on the Web every day. And before you start boasting about your personal T1 or redundant systems, I am talking about the other 95% of homes that rely on a simple, DSL, cable or satellite connection to reach the Web/Cloud. Oh, and admittedly I did absolutely no research on this, but assuming 34,000,000 U.S. households with a $29.95/m connection to the Web, That’s a cool $1B/month for support and infrastructure improvement. A lot of clams indeed.
I know, you are going to tell my your connection is very reliable. My interpretation of “very” in this context though would be somewhere around 99.99/100% reliable. Is that what you mean by reliable? On Christmas morning, like thousands of others, I turned on my XBox, tuned into iHeart Radio, selected the 25th Anniversary Very Special Christmas station and let it stream through the Surround Sound system. All was good for about an hour, barring a couple 1-2 second hiccups. Then the music stopped. Tried changing stations, no luck. Tested my BrightHouse connection via my phone and no mas, nothing. Rebooted the cable modem, rebooted the router, and still nothing. After 5 minutes of wasting my time, I went out to the garage, selected five choice Christmas CDs out of a storage box, popped them in the 100 disc changer, and continued to enjoy the day, minus the Cloud. Long live old tech.
Don’t know what happened. Maybe it was all those new iOS and Android activations overloading the system. Connectivity came back later in the day, but on both Wednesday and Thursday morning, same issue. A near non-existent connection via my hard wired desktop machine. Weak enough that speedtest.net struggled to load a page, never mind running a test. When I got home from work, I was back to an 11.5Mbps connection without touching anything. Odd. As DSL and cable connectivity is not subject to things like solar flares, what makes it not work one day, and work the next. Guess you can blame the wind or weather, but much of the wiring in Florida is underground, so not really subject to environmental conditions. Maybe it’s just a Florida, or cable thing. Back in NJ, aside from power outages, I think I lost my Verizon DSL connection once in 8 years. Still not 99.99/100%, but closer. Natural disasters, like Hurricane Sandy, are exceptions to my reliability expectations. But with that said, a relative who lives at least 30 miles from the coast, on a mountain, lost power for about a week. That was bad. But it took two additional weeks to restore their Internet connection. Wow.
Back in my Corporate days, my company had Citrix servers feeding our plants, with database applications, throughout North America. I knew that by 2:00am EST, everyone would be off the network (fortunately CA only ran a single shift), so that was a good time to update and reboot the servers, using that fairly reliable home DSL connection. Our in-house programmers used a somewhat different approach. They would simply kick everyone off the servers whenever they felt like it, knocking dozens of users off the system, sometimes corrupting a database and causing still another reboot. Of course they would never admit to it, blaming AT&T & Verizon instead. Could that be what’s happening with my BrightHouse connection. Lazy techs, or inferior equipment. Hey, what’s the big deal dude. So we knock a few hundred thousand users off with a single click. We’ll get it straightened out, right after lunch.
The more we rely on the Web and our personal Cloud, the more critical this issue will become for everyone. Connectivity is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity for many. Do I want to leave the office, “assuming” I will be able to VPN into our server when I get home, only to find that my connection is down, again. Call me old fashioned, but that’s why I still copy those files to a thumbdrive, or print out a physical map when venturing (real men don’t ask for directions) into unknown territory. I would love to live in a world where a connection was always on, always working. But I think we have a little longer to wait. What’s your experience? 99.99/100%, or somewhat less?
Oh, and for Junior. That’s a leopard to the left. Man wiped them out in the first half of the 21st century. Sad.