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To Cloud Or Not To Cloud: That is the Question

I was reading a c|net new article today entitled "Gmail grows up with offline e-mail access". Before even reading the article, the first thought that ran through my head was, "wow, one of the leaders in cloud computing models is having to deal with the issue of disconnected models." Of course, we've seen this before from Google with Gears, which allows applications to work in online and offline states. However, until I began to focus on cloud computing as a topic of study, I hadn't really paid all that much attention to the implications of Gears and this announcement.

I am not criticizing Google for their decision. Indeed, I believe that dealing with disconnected states is a critical aspect of building reliable, distributed systems. Additionally, it raises a great architectural question, which is, "for this particular function, do I put it in the cloud or not?" Moreover, if you do put it in the cloud, what supporting capabilities will be required to ensure that the function or data you put in the cloud is available when you need it.

In addition to companies, like Google, needing to answer these questions, we as individual users need to answer these questions on a daily basis. I recently purchased tickets to a show via Ticketmaster and I selected the option to print my own tickets at home. Ticketmaster sends a link in email to print out the tickets, which for me was my Gmail account. Upon receiving the email from Ticketmaster I immediately saved the message to my desktop versus leaving the information in my Gmail account simply because I didn't want the added risk of potentially not being able to get to this email when I needed it.

For me, as someone who consults on cloud computing architecture, my own actions were a key indicator that the cloud is temporal and we do not yet rely on the ability to access the cloud or the applications and data in the cloud whenever we so choose. We are, as a user community, acutely aware that what we put in the cloud may, and, if we believe Murphy's Law, will be inaccessible when we most need it.

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More Stories By JP Morgenthal

JP Morgenthal is a veteran IT solutions executive and Distinguished Engineer with CSC. He has been delivering IT services to business leaders for the past 30 years and is a recognized thought-leader in applying emerging technology for business growth and innovation. JP's strengths center around transformation and modernization leveraging next generation platforms and technologies. He has held technical executive roles in multiple businesses including: CTO, Chief Architect and Founder/CEO. Areas of expertise for JP include strategy, architecture, application development, infrastructure and operations, cloud computing, DevOps, and integration. JP is a published author with four trade publications with his most recent being “Cloud Computing: Assessing the Risks”. JP holds both a Masters and Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from Hofstra University.

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