The expiration date of the cloud
On a warm summer day I noticed my central heating was on, which was odd to me. After looking at some of the heating elements, it turns out a thermostatic valve was broken. Now would a good as time as ever to make the heating smart, but how? With help of the cloud?
Enthusiastically I looked at all the products I could use to refit my heating system into a per-room cloud controlled system. One can evaluate these products just like you would consider a traditional home remodel: applicability, ease of use, design and cost. These days however there seems to be another dimension/factor to this equation. We used to buy remodeling products at the home depot and use it for dozens of years without ever looking back. When was the last time you worried about a valve you installed ten years ago? These days we have to consider if something fits in our digital environment and how long the product will function within this everchanging techworld.
Cloud has become a fact of life and is now all around us. The heating products I was considering were no different. For me it was moment of reflection; A moment to consider that we are transitioning from a product-oriented society to a more service-based world. The advantages are pretty clear: the centrally controlled systems in the cloud are smarter, more dynamic and more highly available than whenever people use a local “smart hub” or some other local on-site device. The flipside is that these service-based products have more dependencies. How does such it perform when there is no internet connection? How long can an average consumer expect to receive updates and a supporting backend service to function for his piece of consumer electronics?
It’s one thing when your smartphone barely gets any updates after two years, it a whole different thing if you’d have to replace your entire heating system after just four years. With this relatively new category of products (smart connected home automation), both consumers and manufacturers are still looking for middle ground between consumer expectations and a realistic timespan for product support.
Cloud in your business environment
In business, we often reflect on topics like this. How are we going to use this centralized service and how well does our current business/technical environment line up with the service? Are there challenges to overcome so we can assure a great end-user experience? Are there agreements on the availability of said service?
It’s often important to reflect on the changes in this new and dynamic world of cloud and what kind of impact this will have on your own business. These new types of services (versus often locally installed and updated products) are changing rather rapidly. A cloud service can change overnight and within a few months new functionality is introduced and other functions are let go. How are you handling these changes? And what can you expect of this service-partner in business?
Ever changing world
Microsoft gives insights into it’s (planned) changes to it’s cloud services via the public Cloud Platform Roadmap. In this roadmap, they indicate when components are added, what changes are coming and what the impact will be for your business. But even with such large corporations like Microsoft, priorities can change. Last year Microsoft indicated they will no longer be adding new features to Azure RemoteApp, a cloud based Remote Desktop solution that showed promise in it’s infancy. Later on this year they canceled the service and the plug was pulled in August 2017.
Instead Microsoft chose to strengthen its partnership with Citrix and focused more on offering Citrix XenApp services in Microsoft Azure. What’s important to note is how they handled the transition from the RemoteApp service to other alternatives.. They indicated in advance how their services are changing and how customers could consider alternatives before the services was eventually retired.
The expiration date of the cloud
As consumers, we’re still very much looking to set realistic expectations from our manufacturers and service providers. However as business users we’ve often grown accustomed to changing conditions. In many years, businesses have learned to have a more flexible, more agile approach to handling these changes. The more flexible we become, the better we can adapt to whatever this changing (cloudy) world will bring us.
Does the cloud have an expiration date?
No, given the dynamic properties of the cloud, it’s safe to say the cloud will be here for a long time to come.
Does your specific cloud service have an expiration date?
You betcha! Is that a bad thing? Well that depends on how flexible you and your business are.