Yesterday, Gmail had a quite big outage. Approximatively 14% of their users have experienced slow or inexistent mail access.

This makes a poster on slashdot nervous :

” […] This is exactly what makes me nervous about cloud computing and data storage. It’s bad enough when I screw up a config and it takes down my mail, but what about when it happens to the entire globe at once?”

This makes me nervous as well. But I think there will soon be a solution to this. Why are we using gmail? Because it is available from everywhere, easy to use and provide ample storage.

All this is done using the cloud computing metaphore. I think it is possible for a company to provide the same service without cloud computing.

Available from everywhere : have a cached copy of the UI and date stored on every computer the user has (peer to peer system, where a peer is some computer owned by the same user, not a random guy you cannot trust). Only if the user is on a new computer AND the service is down at the same time will bring any trouble

Easy to use : keep your user interface secrets by compiling it someway and distribute the copy using a browser based system. Like the offline system provided already for data, only it would be extended to software as well. Keep working on this global user interface from the feedback of a world of users.

Ample storage : use local storage and only use central servers for backup and data sync. Use peer to peer system to sync data.

Yes it’s a lot of work, and it will require a lot of change in the existing browser infrastructure.

A lot of work, but it’s the price to pay for efficency, high availability, environement friendlyness, and most importantly freedom of the data owners.

Expect to see this in the next few years. Expect the cloud computing metaphore to change a bit, and surround more the user than the entire world. A cloud as we see it today won’t make any sense. The cloud will be made by the user devices, not a large hangar somewhere in the world.