Two unrelated developments took place this week
- GMail was down for nearly 4 hours on February 24, 2009 (GMail was down for 20 hours on October 2008)
- I got an email from Yahoo on February 25, 2009 formally stating that Yahoo Briefcase (that many of us used for 10 years for free) will shut down on March 30, 2009; the mail requested us to backup files so that we are not inconvenienced
The developments come at a time when the world is talking of “moving everything” to the “Internet cloud”, emboldened by the near zero failure (In spite of Internet scale growth) of search engines Yahoo & Google.
Searching allows “graceful degradation” naturally; no one would mind if one important source is missing in the results of a query; no one would mind an “irrelevant” query among the millions; after all one can use the “brain power” of the user (human being) to “sort out” such “bugs”. Unfortunately, many other applications are very different; one would mind missing out an e-mail; one would be upset if his / her mail list contains another person’s mail too. That is where the success of Google does NOT translate to the “cloud computing” becoming an unquestioned success.
With many high tech employers (including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, IBM & HP) laying off, with employers not able to afford the luxury of employees working on “cool” exploration, the “free resource pool” that open source community took for granted is evaporating fast. Even academics (teachers & students) are feeling the pinch of recession. Naturally, “free help” and “free development” is going to take a hit too.
Amidst such a scene, one has to be very careful about the blind move to embrace “clod computing” by one & all. Sure, there are areas where cloud computing will win; but in many areas it may be best to use the local resource.
My own pet analogy is a “roof-top water tank”; one hardly notices it. It “synchronizes” with the water supply pipeline without any human involvement. We need something similar in the information space; seamless synchronization between the desktop and the cloud. Desktop will never go away; we need the local power. But we need not be bound to the desktop.
Data will be on the cloud, programs will run on the desktop (utilizing the power) and seamless connectivity ensures that all things are “in synch”. So cloud computing and desktop computing will peacefully co-exist; that is my take.
I need not be right; in fact I will like to be proved wrong but it looks very unlikely!