Cloud Computing

Rant: In London, mind the gap between cloud PR and reality

When is a utility not a utility? When it’s a cloud.

OK, so it’s not the stuff of Christmas crackers never mind great philosophical conundrums nor brilliant aphorisms. But when people talk about computing becoming a “utility” it begs the question.

In a fairly advanced society we take for granted access to power and water and get upset when we can’t have a consistent supply of heat, light or refreshment. But in computing it’s often the case that we are cut off from the grid that technology boosters insist is “ubiquitous”.

We are told that cloud computing is the future: efficient, fast, reliable, self-healing and, as advertisers of the sickly sweet vermouth Martini used to say, accessible from “anytime, anyplace, anywhere” [sic].

And yet here I am on a train minutes away from supposedly one of the world’s great cities, London, and I am suffering from a patchy cellular signal, no public WiFi option and no place to plug in to a power source.

This is a common issue in England’s capital. WiFi is all too often a paid-for option and the never-ending building can make even a humble GSM signal hard to find. On public transport the options are particularly thin gruel. WiFi is accessible on platforms but not on most Underground trains – the very time when you are more likely to want it rather than the couple of minutes of the average wait for a train.

Meanwhile, many cloud services remain severely restricted in offline mode, reducing them to ‘sync when you’re back’ affairs. If this was a utility the ombudsman would be called by angry citizens on a frequent basis - and for a city that pays lip service to becoming a digital hub it’s a shabby state of affairs.


Also read:

Public electronics abuse is everywhere

Videoconferencing should mean no Heathrow expansion

Death by (lack of) power point

Business etiquette is broken: here’s how to fix it.

Tired old London needs to smarten up

A modest proposal to reboot London


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Torquemada, not his real name, has been casting a jaundiced eye on the technology world since the Sinclair C5 was causing as much excitement as the driverless car today, a 64K RAM pack could turbocharge performance, and Alan Sugar was the equivalent of Elon Musk.

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