Torments of the Internet damned

By , Computerworld |  On-demand Software

I live on the Internet. I work on the Internet. I keep in touch with my friends on the Internet. Without the Internet, I'm out of business. I'm not the only one. But lately, with my rock-solid AT&T DSL connection (6Mbit/sec. down, 512Kbit/sec. up), I've taken it for granted. That was before my connection went sour and I rediscovered just how miserable life can be without a good network connection.

Last Friday my network connection started turning on me. It never completely failed. Instead, it started torturing me with a thousand cuts of minor slowdowns and nagging latency delays. By Saturday morning, my network connection was down to dial-up modem speeds of 32Kbit/sec.

Imagine trying to run a hundred-yard dash in knee-deep mud and you have an excellent idea of how I've felt over the last few days. Instead of getting my work done, I've been working, with AT&T, on getting my Internet connection back into shape. It hasn't been easy. I'm falling behind in my real work; and my connection is still having fits.

It could have been worse, though. Yes, I rely on the Internet to do my job, but I don't rely on network-based applications. I use the Web, instant messaging and e-mail constantly. But I don't write stories using Google Docs , manage projects with SharePoint Online or use Salesforce for CRM (customer relationship management). If I did, I wouldn't just be angry and miserable; I might well be on my way to being out of a job as well.

You see, I can still get some stuff done even with a crippled Internet connection. I write my stories with OpenOffice 3.1 ; I use QuickBooks for both accounting and project management; and I keep my calendar and manage my contacts with Evolution . By keeping my mission-critical applications on my local servers, I'm still able to keep going.

What about you? If your business Internet connection were crippled and running at 5% of its usual speed, could you keep going? If you've moved your business's core software to SaaS (software as a service) , I doubt it.

It's handy to run your applications remotely. But that's not to say I'm a Luddite. Indeed, I was helping run the Internet, or at least some of the parts of it belonging to NASA, when a T1, with its 1.544Mbit/sec. speed, was considered remarkably fast. But I've never been comfortable with relying on the Internet for vital applications.

Of course, you have to have the Internet for e-mail and the like, but does that mean that it's a smart idea to put all your IT eggs into the Internet basket? I don't think so.

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