A prediction: Personal Cloud Desktops in the next 5 years.


Lying in bed last night, I had a revelation about where I can see us heading in the next few years. This is mostly reliant on better broadband though (hello NBN!) but regardless I believe my idea is where we are heading.

Firstly, if you use more than 1 PC/device then you’ll know the frustration of having to either do multiple installs of applications you use, or re-do settings. A good example of this is your browser’s favorites/bookmarks list. Sure you can type in the websites, but it’s nice to have a full list to just choose from. To fill this void, services like Delicious popped up – your bookmarks in the cloud! Now it doesn’t matter where you are, you can access that same list.

Email went the same way – Outlook is nice to use, but it doesn’t help you when you’re at work and want to check your personal emails. Again, the solution was to have your emails in the cloud and sync all your devices/PC’s to that single point, or even just use a web interface and forget about using any other client.

Twitter is my third example. Personally, at home I use Tweetdeck, work I just use the webpage and on my iPhone it’s the official Twitter App. They all have different options and strenghts/weaknesses, but there’s no standard to how I’m reading twitter between all these things. For those of you that attened TechEd Australia and didn’t fall asleep in the Keynote, this was one of the points Microsoft made about their future vision – consistency across all platforms.

At the moment, I’m at the stage that if I’m at work, or even in the lounge at home, I can remote desktop to my main desktop with everything set up how I like it. I’d rather do that then have to both installing a bunch of apps yet again, looking for that consistent user experience.

Anyway, I don’t see this consistency stopping with just the apps – I see it as being your whole environment/desktop. I believe this will happen one of two ways:

1. All your settings/apps/etc will be synced to the cloud on a single account. You sign in somewhere, and all these settings get pulled down. It’s almost like a roaming profile, but with a much wider reach. This may be the first step before #2, because there are many limitations with this.

2. Your own virtual desktop in the cloud. Instead of just syncing bits and pieces – your whole desktop can either be hosted in the cloud, or synced there. Differential Syncronisation would make any changes required back and forth. Think of it the same way you do email, but on a larger scope. You sit in front of a new PC, and either download or plug in your desktop – and everything’s there just how you left it. This is already in place in some corporate environments, but as far as I know it’s only doing a remote session to a server. This is the next step, where you have the option of still using your local powerful PC because you’ve got a copy of the desktop on it. If that isn’t needed, then you can still just remotely control your little space in the cloud (again, I’m hoping you see the parallels with email here).

So there you have it. My prediction. I want my personal desktop in the cloud, but also don’t want to be limited by latency or bandwidth issues.

TLDR; A personalised virtualised desktop that downloads locally on demand, with differential synchronisation for changes.

Do You Trust The Cloud Yet?

The Cloud – Monkey (from Monkey Magic) had one, should you use it too?

Has your CIO/CEO/IT Manager done this?

Do you trust the cloud?

I would be surprised if you whole-heartedly said ‘yes’. Firstly because you’re talking back to a blog post which is quite strange behaviour, but secondly because there’s a lot of media attention going on in this space.

Just to rehash the last week, there were two major events, one from Google and the other Microsoft.


Wednesday 8th September (ish, it’s hard to gather what timezone they’re all talking about) saw a Google Docs outage. The outage lasted 52 minutes: 23 minutes from being alerted to kick off a rollback proccess which then took 24 minutes to do. Add an extra 5 minutes – the time it took for “the additional capacity restored normal function”.

The cause was due to a change they had implemented to improve real time collaboration, but the heavy load of the real world exposed a memory management bug.


Wednesday 8th September again (although later in the day in America, so the 9th for Aussies) it was Microsoft’s turn. Office 365, Dynamics CRM and some other non-enterprise level services (Hotmail, Skydrive, Live stuff) were down for a few hours. This one was not as clear cut – the outage itself was for the North American data centres, which meant genereally that Australians were fine as we use another based in Singapore. The fix was an update to DNS servers, which means we all have to wait for replication of the new records around the world before everyone everywhere is without issue.

The cause for this is a bit less detailed than Google’s, with ‘DNS issues’ being claimed as the cause.

That’s scary, how do I cope with these outages?
So, would your business complain about these outages? OK yes, you probably have someone who complains about their keyboard clicking too loudly when they type, so of course someone will complain about this.

If you wanted to jump into the cloud, I’d suggest to look at a hybrid solution. This isn’t news to many readers I’m sure – multiple paths of redundancy for “everything” which includes your servers and services. For emails, you can split between your local Exchange (or even hosted) and Google Apps. Postini replays everything that goes through it to Google Apps, so your users can jump onto Google Apps in the event of an Exchange outage and continue working. Then, you’re not missing out on the feature rich options of Exchange, but the business critical emails have full redundancy.

My Conclusion:
The real summary here is – go ahead, use the Cloud. BUT – do what you should already be doing (i.e. redundancy, are you paying attention here? Good.). A single provider in the cloud is not reliable enough at this stage to be trusted for it’s own inbuilt redundancy. Trust two clouds, or one cloud and the other half on-premesis.

If you’re a small business with a portaloo full of staff, then it becomes much harder to justify. Also, is there a manual process that can be used in the event of a service failure? Business Continuity should dictate what’s required for redundancy. Maybe writing things down for a day is a completely valid way of coping with the outage, with little or no loss to the business? There’s no reason to spend money on redundancy in that sort of situation.

Google Apps and Office 365 both guarantee 99.9% uptime – sounds great, but that’s ~42 minutes a month they’re allowing for. How much would your business lose if nobody could do their computer based work for 42 minutes during the day, every month on average? Over a year, that’s slightly over 1 full working day. If the cost of that outweighs the cost of getting a second cloud service or some other means of redundancy, then it’s already paid for itself. Getting a service refund after the event isn’t really what people care about, they just want it to work.

Google Docs Blog –
Google Postini:
Windows Blog –
Office 365 Tweet –!/Office365/status/112008132443648000
ZDNet Microsoft Outage –