cloud computing reliability will not matter

All the buzz about “cloud computing” is great, but isn’t it just a rehash of “dumb terminal”, “thin client” computing, that lost out big against the PC? Yes it is, but not for long; the browser does not need to be the modern equivalent of the terminal, chained to the call/response of HTTP requests in order to provide applications.

I wrote about this a while back, but I think it bears repeating.. HTML 5 includes support for “offline” applications, including client-side storage, which means that that in current and upcoming versions of Firefox, Safari, and Opera will support running web applications locally on the user’s computer, without needing to be in constant communication with the server.

Instead of asking your users to install your application in the traditional sense, visiting the website that hosts your application will cause the client to download and store everything needed to operate on the client side. The application can detect whether or not the computer is online, and attempt to connect to needed real-time, syncing, and other web services as needed, and only interrupt the user if absolutely necessary.

This means that the questionable reliability of having all of your applications hosted “in the cloud” is greatly mitigated, and impact on the end user is quite minimal. Even if your entire site is down, there’s no reason for that to interrupt the user of your snazzy application; in fact, with cross-site AJAX support, the user can continue to fetch and transmit data with other websites (I’m thinking a real-time price comparison site, or something like that, which today would be implemented completely server-side and just fall over in this scenario), so it may be totally acceptable for your site to receive the queued up responses from clients when it comes back up, depending on what your application does of course.

For IE support, you could use something like Google Gears or Adobe Flash’s offline capabilities, until Microsoft catches up to the rest of the world. This is the biggest pain point of the brave new offline world right now, however it’s a very real concern as Microsoft IE still has around 70% of the global web browser market share.. If this is something you need, check out Dojo’s storage classes as a high-level library to abstract away these details for you; if you’re doing a serious AJAX site nowadays you really should be using or at least intimiately familiar with the great toolkits like Dojo, Mochikit, JQuery, etc. There’s no need for handling each browser/version case by hand nowadays, unless you have a really good reason.

3 Responses to “cloud computing reliability will not matter”

  1. Brad Neuberg Says:

    Hey there, I created Dojo Offline and Dojo Storage and work with Google on Google Gears, so if you are interested in building anything that works with these technologies feel free to ping me!

    Brad Neuberg

  2. F. Andy Seidl Says:

    I agree… despite what many pundits have to say, reliability issues will not be the downfall of cloud computing. Your argument here is a good one, but I also offer another reason. Using cloud computing does not mean neglecting to architect solutions that meet their business requirements, including reliability requirements.

    I wrote more about this idea here:

    Cloud Computing and Reliability

  3. AnyHosting » Blog Archive » offline mobile Gmail Says:

    [...] Mobile Gmail will soon be using nex-gen (HTML5) browser standards to make network reliability not matter: [...]

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