Cloud 2.0 the Local Cloud
Oct 9, 2009

Cloud Computing 2.0: the Fog (the Mist?)

With Cloud computing becoming so prevalent, the next step is to allow Cloud applications to work when the user/device is not connected. Connectivity is great, but there are always cases when you just can't get on the net: when you're on an airplane, visiting Aunt Martha who doesn't have a connection, or whatever. A well designed application will let you do a significant amount of work and then detect when you are hooked into the cloud again and automatically prepare the next step. Something like this happens with my Blackberry emails when I'm not connected: my device keeps them until I have a signal again and then sends them. ITunes podcasts work in a like manner, I get new podcasts when I connect in. Video podcasts show the power of this: I may  not be able to stream video over whatever connection I have, but I can select a number of video podcasts, dump them on my device and watch them when I'm ready.

You need to harness the power of the local device so that the user has access to important data and function even if disconnected, or the cloud site is down. The user needs to be in a Local Cloud: Fog (which sounds bad, but isn't. Maybe it should be "Mist").

I am working on a Fog/Cloud 2.0 application now: it's in beta testing. In this case, the Cloud is actually the problem. The users of the application are very remote and bandwidth is at a premium, so Cloud tasks are very slow. But the users need access to vast amounts of flexible data. My challenge is to leverage the Cloud but overcome the speed issue. What I've done is changed the work flow so that less happens on the screen the user actually sees, and more happens behind the scenes. The data is loaded based on a simple key value and presented to the user in a new window when ready. If the task may take significant time, I've got a process that emails the user when it's ready. The user is able to update and submit, and the program holds on to it until there is a good connection and sends it on. Leveraging both the Cloud and the local device.

One of the reasons Fog computing may be important is that bandwidth may not keep up with demand. There are times when my work and home connections are slow. IPhone users complain that they have limited connectivity in lots of areas. The iPhone has a good amount of processing power, and apps that can run without a connection are fine, but lose the cloud and you lose a lot. But if those apps leveraged the device for some basic data and functionality, the users would have a much better experience. We all love the cloud and what it brings, but wisdom demands that we prepare for what happens when the key piece, the connection, isn't available. The application needs to be able to determine that the Cloud is ready and use it then, but when the Cloud isn't there, the app still needs to run.

Hmmm. I just described Notes. Again Lotus Knows what's next.



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Comments (3)

1 Robert D Proctor commented Oct 10 2009 Trackback Recommendations 0
Hi Brian


I agree completely with your assessment of the FOG/Cloud
Also I think it very interesting that you used the "Again Lotus Knows what's next"
Back in August I missed the deadline on the Idea Jam to submit a Lotus Knows Idea but sent this text off to Bilal Jaffrey and Drew Donmoyer at IBM
The idea is

...because Lotus Knows What's Next...
This is a play on the "who knows what's next" saying but infers that Lotus DOES
I think this would play well with the smarter planet concept and also allow for shwing some amazing apps such as Bones and Idea Jam type stuff etc
Also past versions were R Next etc
I do like your take on it as the use of the word "Again" infers historical competence if you will.
I think we should push to get this noton of "Lotus Knows what's next" to go main stream..
My 2 cents
All the best
Robert Proctor 

2 Brian M Moore commented Oct 12 2009 Permalink Recommendations 0
Lotus Knows What's Next....Again


Lotus has been there when others have arrived many times in it's history. Consider that now when I do some work with users, I pop over to the Workspace and go "Looks like an iPhone, doesn't it". I've had users who have come to me weeks later telling me that just that changed their opinion of Notes. And Notes was doing it with version 1.
I saw this on TechCrunch today:
If two large companies like Microsoft and Version can have a failure like this, you need the Fog/Local Cloud to provide a backup of your data. And the Notes replication model works here like a perfect dream. You just turn on replication and set a schedule, and it handles it for you.
And it's not just backups. Look at how Google (I company I really admire) has had trouble with keeping it's GMail system up. If users had a Fog/Local Cloud version of GMail the damage would be greatly mitigated.
I recently used disconnected email in just this fashion. Not wanting to connect in an airport when I had a long lay-over, I read and replied to a lot of email. In some ways it was very relaxing. I knew I wouldn't be getting any responses (or calls) and I could linger. I even got to reply to a number that had been sitting in my inbox waiting for me to get to them. When I reconnected, they all went and I didn't have to think about it. I had my contacts available to add as recipients, and certain applications stored locally so I could look up data. It was Asynchronous Cloud Computing. All on Notes, naturally.
When I revise an application, I look for the weak points to shore up. As wonderful as Cloud Computing is, it has a major weak point - the connection. Slow connections or no connection sends the entire process into a tailspin, so you have to, as Anne Robinson would say: "You are the Weakest Link, Good-bye".


3 Robert D Proctor commented Oct 13 2009 Trackback Recommendations 0
Hi Brian,


I like the analogy of the iPhone and the LN Workspace
Would be great to get the new look workspace to make it more hip to the current generation.
After posting to your blog the other day I sent an email to Ed Brill to let him know that he should consider teh Lotus Knows What's Next tag line.
He replied that he sent the email to marketing.
Never know
I too am a Google fan but have seen this act before (ASP - Application Service Providers now the Cloud)
I too think it will be a hybrid model.
The Lotus Foundations appliance approach I think with the idea of a Branch Office Appliance has a great deal of merit.
If Google provided an Appliance to the Cloud that when it was down could store local transactions etc of teh Google Apps much like the Google Search Appliance etc then I think it would be easier to have some faith.
Lotus is already poised with Lotus Live to ramp that hybrid approach up. What is needed is a Lotus Foundations Server that utilizes Lotus Live as the Gateway of services for things Like Sametime , Traveller and Quickr but allows for the Messaging and RAD Application Development to Stay onsite as that is where the core business functions will be needed.
Also it allows for Business Partners to Support the growth of the application platform and leverage the Lotus Messaging Engine.
Again my 2cents
Never know
Lots of fun this week though
This is an archive of my previous blog attachments are in the download control