Clouds and Clumps-of-Dirt

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[shrug... what *is* the opposite of "cloud"?]

Hi,

I have to make a presentation for a new design.  I *know*
that it will (erroneously) conjure up the "cloud" notion
in some heads and need to come up with a simple way of
describing why it is *not* so.

I've done other distributed designs so the concept of
"depending on the wire" to make things work isn't foreign.
I'm reasonably well versed in the advantages of such a
design (as well as the drawbacks).

This presentation is a hybrid solution that works *on*
the wire (even if that is an ethereal "wire") as well
as *off* -- leveraging the features of each to produce
a "better" solution.

The easiest distinction I can think of to clarify why this
approach is *not* "cloud like" is to state that, with the
cloud, you *rely* on the cloud's presence/accessibility
to provide the functionality you desire.  I.e., if the
network goes down, you've got *squat*.

Does that seem a fair oversimplification?

Thx,
--don

Re: Clouds and Clumps-of-Dirt
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Try to find a very common analogy perhaps?

"Like a hybrid car, if the batteries are charged it works, but if
required, it works fine with the gas engine."

or a powered glider, or an electric toothbrush - if the batteries are
dead, you can still brush your teeth manually,etc. , or some other
dual-featured ,hopefully common, object.

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Yes, the point of my question was to come up with a "simple"
(trivial) way of explaining the *cloud's* key characteristics
(the easiest way to differentiate it from what I am presenting
would be the *reliance* on the network)

To follow your lead (albeit poorly), it would be like a
glider with REMOVABLE WINGS (i.e., without the wings,
you've got a *brick*!)

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Yeah, you seem to have a good handle on possible approaches so, I'd
recommend you fully qualify your audience. Their skill/experience
level should help determine which analogy to use. I'd say 'most'
people just think of the 'cloud' as alternate/parallel data storage.

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But, is there any other aspect of The Cloud that my simplification
fails to "do justice to"?

Re: Clouds and Clumps-of-Dirt
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Again, I think it may depend on your audience. That is, if, for
instance, I tell you guys that our semi-automated test fixtures here
have a wireless lan to an in-house server , but can buffer over a
day's worth of test results to upload at a later time if the network
goes down - you would understand it. But my mother-in-law wouldn't. I
might tell her, it's like putting a big bucket under the sink to catch
the dripping until the plumber clears the clog.

I presume your audience is somewhere between these examples (dunno).
It's not unlike technical writing. Determining the education/
familiarity level of your target audience with your subject makes a
big difference on how you write.

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A colleague suggested stressing the obvious characteristics
of connectivity (or lack thereof).

E.g., in addition to the dependence on the network for the
services, the network's presence also makes other things
feasible/practical (like facilitating collaboration,
communication, interaction, etc.).  I.e., the network is
an asset as well as a liability -- stress those things that
come and go with the going and coming of that connectivity!

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I think he's on the right track, and I was much too restrictive when I
mentioned data storage because certainly there ARE applications that
are 'cloud computing', with people even using online spreadsheets,
remote imaging, collaboration as mentioned, and other 'true'
applications/programs.

Perhaps you will need to define 'cloud' or 'cloud computing' for your
audience and then proceed to outlining your particular approach to on
and offline functionality.

there isa wiki page that may have some text and image resources for
you, I'm sure there are others as well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing

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I think his point was that the aspect of my presentation that
"allows operation *without* 'The Cloud'" focuses too much attention
on the shortcomings associated with cloud computing.  I.e., it is
as if to say, "This is *better* because it doesn't *need* the cloud".

That's a subtle bias that it would be too easy for folks to perceive.
I.e., the *losses* of abilities that go along with "lost connectivity"
are "intuitively obvious" to me, him, (you, etc.) but might be missed
by someone not as closely connected to the technology.  His point is
that it cheats the audience out of a *truly* informed decision.

"I don't carry a cell phone.  So, I can't be bothered by people
when I am out-and-about!"

"True, but neither can you *contact* people at that time! (e.g., a
tow truck operator if your car breaks down)"

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Yes, I think a two-column chart, "online vs. offline" that shows
what aspects are available in each "mode".  But, being *comprehensive*
in presenting those aspects, not "omitting" any because they might
seem to be "intuitively obvious" (to *me*).

This allows the audience to see "what they get" by supporting
"offline" operation and to better evaluate its merit when they
see what they are *losing* in that same situation.

E.g., a cell phone without "phone service" still has some value
(as a clock, "PDA", MP3 player, etc.).  But, does providing those
capabilities in the absence of phone service justify the cost
or complexity of doing so?  Would you *ever* want to be "without
phone service"?   etc.

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Hmmm...you might consider having folks raise their hands in response
to a question like - "How many of you have ever lost connectivity?"
Expecting of course many hands. That should help bring home the point
about being left with a 'brick' or a useful (if limited) tool.

I think you will need to put yourself less in the engineering mode and
perhaps more in the Instructor/Salesman mode it seems. Hah!

Re: Clouds and Clumps-of-Dirt
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Actually, the cell phone analogy may work well, here.  Esp as phones
are becoming more "empowered".

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The trick is making sure they are "adequately informed" without
providing so much information that they become paralyzed from
"information overload".  After all, sorting out the technological
nuances is *my* job!  ;-)

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