Personal Desktop Computing may have More Resilience Against Cloud Options than Previously Expected

If the value of cloud computing options will be diminished as the result of a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy, then personal desktop computing will be more resilient than previously expected.

We think it makes sense to consider the latest cloud computing imperative, which we have characterized as largely driven by Enterprise IT ISVs, within an historical context. In the mid 1980s computing options included lots of reliance on “time sharing” systems. In effect, these “time shares” were precursors of today’s cloud computing, but with a twist. Of course, web browsers were not yet available, therefore, customers of these “time shares” required terminals in order to access these services.

These terminals were, at the outset, actual hardware devices built to connect to mainframe computers, or “mini” computers over data communications protocols delivered over a modem session conducted over a dedicated, or shared, telephone line.

By the mid 1980s, these “time sharing” systems had been around for at least 5 to 10 years. Despite the benefits they delivered — including access for smaller businesses to the same quality software applications used by much larger peers — there was, nevertheless, an emerging interest in “personal” computing. “Personal” computing promised to deliver a wide, and quite flexible, capability to customers to custom fit software applications to highly specific requirement with precisely the user interface required to ensure popularity and high rates of usage.

We don’t think that now, almost 20 years later, the situation has changed that much. In fact, as we see it, the misunderstood market place message is that cloud computing is capable of delivering an even more flexible, attractive user experience than would otherwise be the case with personal computers. How else would one interpret the attractiveness of a service like Facebook, which is really little more than homestead.com on “steriods.”

It is worth taking a moment to look a bit deeper into the Facebook phenomenon. We think that one of the features that Facebook users really like is the promise of invisibility. After all, Facebook maintains a minimal, rather useless search feature. Therefore, Facebook pages can be built for a private audience of “friends.” This privacy is, of course, great for users, but a highly detrimental feature for potential advertisers.

The bottom line, however, as we see it, is that this extensive flexibility purported to be only available through cloud computing options, is, in fact, a ruse. Cloud computing is designed to service multiple users, simultaneously. Therefore, cloud computing is little more than the 2012 version of “time sharing.” True, hardware terminals have been replaced with web browsers, but the inevitable need for a highly custom, flexible, truly personal alternative in the form of a desktop or hand held device still exists.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved


The Chaos that Resulted from Hurricane Sandy is not Good News for Cloud Computing

We gained first hand experience with Hurricane Sandy and its effects on computing last week. Our experience leads us to posit that, in the aftermath of this disaster, few, if any CIOs for Fortune 1000 businesses headquartered in the Northeast of the United States will likely consider, exclusively, a public cloud solution for enterprise IT computing. The combined effect of a lack of electric power and a completely hobbled wireless data communications infrastructure resulted in no access, whatsoever, to computing over the Internet for several days. For some Fortune 1000 businesses, losing computing for several days can be a mortal wound, and, therefore, is unacceptable.

We are located on Long Island, approximately 35 miles from Manhattan, and, perhaps, 50 miles from Staten Island. We lost our electricity, entirely, early on Tuesday afternoon, October 30, 2012, the first day of the storm. Despite 4G wireless data plan subscriptions for both smart phones and lap top computers, we were entirely unable to communicate over the Internet from our location for a full 24 hours until electricity was restored.

Even a private cloud, backed by a data center equipped with on premise electrical power generators, would not have provided a solution for the problem constituted by the complete disruption in data communications that resulted from this storm. Regardless of how remote computing systems are configured to communicate with a private or public cloud, wireless data communications are still required for connectivity. The fact that at least one of the most popular wireless data providers in the Northeast, Verizon, effectively lost its wireless data network for several days during, and after, the storm renders a private cloud built for data communications over the Internet useless.

Certainly, where employees are able to travel to and from a work place that is supported with its own on premise power generation system, and, further, offers a data communications plant that provides a hard wire connection back to the data center from each work location, then this type of private cloud is a reasonable option. But the reality is that travel to and from central locations was also completely impossible for several days after this storm passed.

The effects of this natural disaster, in our opinion, will be sobering to any market participant who studies them seriously. We think an inevitable conclusion will be that the popularity of Internet protocol for data communication over a wide area network is impressive, but by no means an indicator of reliable, constant performance. Enterprise IT ISVs vigorously promoting the benefits of cloud computing will, in all likelihood, have to re-design their market message to accomodate a likely shift in sentiment on the part of CIOs.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved