Thursday, July 17, 2008

Distributed Networks...

I'm seeing a trend that is a bit disturbing, this trend is companies trying to force their users to use their network and systems. A few examples sit out there right now, Google Mail, Hotmail, Blackberry and now Apple with "me". One of the great concepts of the Internet is that it's a distributed network, an outage with AOL will not affect me if I'm not using AOL, if I have a problem, I need to get it fixed (or the people I'm paying need to get it fixed), but since it's distributed my outage doesn't affect the rest of the world.

As I've seen in my history, Gmail is constantly going down (at least their IMAP version), Hotmail has been better lately, but it used to have huge issues, I also remember using CompuServe (I'm dating myself) when it was pretty much the only big network out there, same issue. You want to see panic, take down BlackBerry's network, every suit in every city will start shaking and panicking as if they were just told that they would never be able to get another grande latte at Starbucks. The Apple network has shown horrible reliability, it seems especially prone to heavy loads (such as when they have these launch events), I understand that they've so messed up "me" that they are offering all their users a free month of service.

OK, what am I getting at? Well as consumers we need to make sure that manufacturers don't require us to use their networks, especially for critical infrastructure pieces (such as email or web services). There is a good friend of mine who is into Resilience, the concept behind Resilience is that no single item is critical, when you make something critical and it fails, you end up with a disaster. The companies aren't doing this to build a better system for consumers, they are doing this either because they are lazy or because they want to make tons of money, they don't care about the consumers.

As a developer, designer, and professional, I have always put my customers needs over money, these people are paying me money to do something for them and they expect it to be done right. Of course that doesn't mean that I build outside the scope of our original agreement, but I do make sure that the agreement that we've made gets executed to it's fullest and most efficient potential, even if I have to do extra work to do it (of course this could explain why I'm not living in a big mansion and driving fast cars).

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