Thursday, May 6, 2010

Perhaps Some Things Just Don't Belong in the Cloud

The idea of remotely managed calendar software must sound very appealing, particularly to those who are so mobile that they want to consult their appointment schedule with any device from any location. Unfortunately, such flexibility seems to come at a price than many may not want to pay. Consider this morning's crash of Google Calendar. According to Tom Krazit's Relevant Results column for CNET News, Google had the following to say about the problem:

An unusually large number of calendar synchronization requests from Android put Google Calendar into auto-failover mode, resulting in increased network traffic that caused affected users' calendars to perform poorly or appear unavailable. No data was lost.

Apparently, the if-you-build-it-they-will-come strategy can have an unpleasant corollary: So many people will come that you cannot use it any more! (Imagine six baseball teams trying to play three games at the same time in the "field of dreams!")

I would like to assume that, for any remotely managed software, Google tries to maintain some sort of demand model that tracks just how many resources are required to support the level of remote usage. If this is the case, how often is that model reviewed; and does Google have guidelines (which I am sure they do not want to share) for how resources get allocated? Enquiring minds want to know, particularly when they depend on time-critical reminders from their calendar software! For now I'll stick with my local installation of Outlook that takes care of synchronizing with its server.

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