The Dawn of Interconnectivity!

I was cleaning out my RSS reader and came across an interesting post from KELLABYTE. She wants a seamlessly integrated world. I have seen commercials for Verizon FIOS that may be deliver that. The challenge comes in delivering that across the spectrum of applications. Pairing you life with the cloud is a must in this situation. Let’s take a look at the different challenges that would limit this achievement.

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For reference I have copied the data stream that kellabyte would like to consume:

  • Email
  • News (RSS)
  • Social (Twitter, etc)
  • Calendar
  • Media (music, video)
  • Documents
  • Web
  • Instant Messaging

The first hurdle is the Cloud. All this data would have to live behind some service (the Cloud) in order to be consumed seamlessly by different devices. Outside of techies there are very few people who feel comfortable storing all their personal data on the cloud (you can’t tell that by what people post on face book). When it comes to non social website data it can become an issue of privacy. The mental hurdle is a little less for an average person compared to large corporations. Losing control of where their proprietary data resides does not sit well for most CIOs.

Next all applications would have to be delivered as Software as a Service (SaaS) or Software plus Services. In this space you have Google Docs and Microsoft Office Live have made strides in the documents, email and calendar. But other providers need to be on board with developing SaaS. Should there be some overarching framework to ensure interoperability? Most would say that is what Service Oriented Architectures are trying to do but most organization struggle with developing pure SOA.

Moving to the cloud requires bandwidth both in the mobile space and in the ISP space. All these bits moving back and forth are going to eat up the current bandwidth that a common users has. A lot of AT&T customers currently complain about lagging networks think what would happen if everyone started moving to the cloud. The technology is catching up with services like FIOS and 4G mobile networks. Is it hard to imagine T1 lines to everyone’s home? This plays into the user experience. Usability will help drive adoption but it will also deter users as well. That is why there needs to be a strong infrastructure.

What would be the next hurdle that would need to be jumped, cost? Infrastructure changes require millions and millions of dollars. Application development requires funding. Hardware to support such a reality cost money. So what is the cost benefit analysis for companies that would under takes such an endeavor, the service providers, software makers, and application developers alike? Will there be a large enough user base to support such a capital undertaking? What kind of psychological barriers to adoption that need to be overcome.

Another technological challenge is security. I alluded to it before in that large corporations are reluctant to move to the cloud. Most of the infrastructure in existence was not developed with security in mind. Just think about what built in security mechanisms we have in TCP. A lot of the security we have has been bolted on as an afterthought. Moving to the cloud introduce a whole new round of privacy concerns. Unfortunately there are bad people in the world that are looking for opportunities to steal your data. I believe that until there is some strong belief of security is there gaining wide spread adoption will be a challenge.

The final challenge I want to address is the social aspects of this interconnectivity. Yes we interact socially through services like Twitter and Facebook but we lose out on the human interaction. We become tied to our devices so that we never unwind. This could lead to burn out if you don’t have a nontechnical outlet. You need something that requires you to become disconnected. Here is a personal experience. A group of coworker came around to my desk and asked who is up to going to lunch. I was game so off we went. As soon as we left the building out came the devices to check work emails. Really we weren’t gone 5 minutes. They couldn’t put down their devices for 30 minutes to enjoy lunch. Which goes to show that if they lost connectivity they would have major withdrawals. Is that a good thing?

There are the challenges so what are the benefits? For one, the prospect of the technology excites me. This opens a whole new line of thinking about how interact with the world around us. I believe that there are productivity gains to be had by being interconnected. I am also excited to see how we would interact with these technologies. The possibilities are endless and we are in an age of technological advances that will allow us to push the envelope.

I really enjoyed reading kellabyte’s post and really got me thinking as to what it would take to make interconnectivity a reality. I look forward to more debate on the topic.

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