If you follow the popular tech press the common thread is that the Cloud is the future, the death knoll for DVD/CD media has already been rung with Apple’s recent Lion install over the App store. You can bet that other OS’s won’t be far behind.
The cloud is where you will do your banking, store your files, type your documents, basically live your life.
I think we can all agree its not if, just when. Dropbox, Evernote, Apple MP3 Player, Google Apps, Salesforce all brands out there now, being used, making money, doing well and there are the next generation already in beta from the masters of the Cloud such as Amazon, Apple and Google.
The cloud however has a chink in its armour, one which we like an elephant in the room are ignoring. It doesn’t matter how much we put our life in the hands of the cloud will be an issue for a long time to come.
The Problem is internet connectivity, something you essentially need 24x7 if your life is in the cloud, which no doubt you have at home, however if you are out of your home, it becomes harder to use the cloud. Companies are having to filter out and lock down their networks. Not because they hate you using Facebook, Google Apps etc, because its not a secure environment out there. City based wifi is patchy at best, and 3G is even more so (in the UK at least) its also not cheap, its the kind of expense which goes first in the current cost saving economy.
So getting connected while you are out and about is not easy, not impossible, just patchy.
Then there is the issue of speed. 4meg is the UK average on our up to networks, this is however download speeds, not upload speeds, which are closer to kbs than mps
So the question is how do you get your content up to the cloud, if your upload speed is terrible?
Its ok for a few documents, However i’ll share with you an example.
I’ve paid for 50Gb dropbox service, and did so so i can keep my Photos safe backed up on drop box, however i have over 12,000 photos over 15Gb of images. on my Talktalk network connection at home i can uplaod to dropbox at about 90KB/Sec which means i’m looking about 2 weeks to upload my photos to Dropbox (or any other cloud based backup service) .
You may think, and would be right, it’s an excessive example, however is Apple have their way, the master plan for iCloud is to basically get your data from your Mac to the cloud sh you can share it on your OSX and IOS devices.
The chink in the armour is the connection speed to the internet, both up and down, until 3G is common place. And if you think it is already, get on a train from London to Welwyn Garden City or Bournemouth or Brighton and i promise you 10 minutes out of London your connection will drop off.. Where most do you need constant connectivity but on a long boring train journey.. So no downloading your books on the amazon Kindle, accessing the Google Maps service to plan your trip, check the weather or find a place to eat..
And this needs to be sorted out, now not in 3 or 4 years time,then we have the capped downloads.. I’m sorry 5Gb a month before i need a mortgage per MB is not cutting it for data coverage either. In the UK its only in the last few months that a glimmer of “all you can eat” 3G has stuck its head over the parapit.. again however at a cost..
Without these issues, of speed, caps and ubiquitous connectivity being sorted out at home, out and about and on the move, the cloud will roll out, but it will be an up hill battle to sell it long term and the cycle or Thin to fat client will go circle again..
The internet is mobile, i belive we all agree on that, other than in the office i can’t remember a time i plugged anything into an Ethernet connection and most of the ultra thin laptops and all of the tablets are forgoing them…
So why is it, in this modern global economy i’m faced when leaving the country to either sell a kidney to raise enough cash for roaming 3G OR use the ropey Wifi connection in a hotel..?
The experience starts when you hit the airport. of ALL the places which could benefit from free Wifi its an Airport, a few choice adverts for companies in Duty free, offering groupon style discounts over the next n minutes. This could if done right fund the whole Wifi in the airport. Provide deals people want and tax the shops not the customers. Instead we have Boingo a company a bit like the sheriff of nottingham. Robbing the passengers to feed its shareholders..
Very few people are going to be streaming videos they want to check email, the hotel or weather for their destination, check trains etc..
However experience shows me that while the outlandish costs for Wifi in the UK are there, in europe i don’t think the idea of mobile internet has even perculated into thier thought process. Munich, Zurich, Rome and Venice airports plenty of “hotspot” signs no actual hotspots. Maybe the cleaner unplugged them?
Outside of the airport, if you have a 3G tariff in the UK, when you get to your destination turn on your phone and get ready to be charged just for turning you phone on. I got an SMS from orange informing me i woud be charged £3+ a MB of data and £1.50 for sending OR RECEIVING an SMS..
I would’t feel so bad, other than the days when each country has their own Mobile phone providers are long gone, the big companies like Vodafone, 02 and Orange all pretty much have networks setup globally and its not costing them any more to put the data through a cell tower in Italy than in North London as the data is still routed and redirected.
There is the option of Hotel Wifi, however i put all my traffic through a VPN because powering up my Macbook Pro i was able to see 15 other Macbook devices on the network and get data off of 5 of them, no firewall setup straight access for everyone direct to the users hard disk. and i don’t want to think about who is sniffing packets on the hotel wifi…
So come on Mobile data providers of the world, its time to kick it up a gear, we are all going mobile, we are all paying you for the privilege to eat at the buffet which is 3G technology, you remember the one which you bought at a high rate because of the dubious auction system it was sold under.. Well now we are ready to start using it it ernest and you need to start plying us with the same deals which you’ve been doing on your voice networks for years. We want the all you can eat buffet all over the world, not the picky bits someone else has prodded at the end of the party.. We will pay for entrance, but really a surcharge on top of every service?
There is no doubt that when it comes to cross platform VoIP systems there is one company which right now are head and shoulders out in front. Skype have been pushing this technology and codec for a long time, long enough to have survived several buyouts and legal disputes. However they still end up being the service people seem to be using.