Dell took quite a beating last month for (unsuccessfully) trying to trademark the term “Cloud Computing”. This has earned them a reputation as a clown in the Cloud Computing community.
I think it’s unfair. In my experience, the most compelling arguments for Cloud Computing come from Dell. Dell doesn’t make the move to Cloud Computing simply desirable, it makes it indispensable.
How? Not with its “Dell Cloud Computing Solutions” consultants. Not with its XS23 Cloud Server.
With a laptop. The Latitude D420. More specifically, the D420 that I am writing on right now.
I have been using laptops as my primary work machine for over 10 years. This one is by far the worst in terms of stability.
For months, I grappled with undiagnosable crashes. A motherboard replacement fixed those (I think). But the machine still fails to hibernate 20% of the time (sometimes even fresh out of a reboot). And the docking/undocking process is still a roll of the dice. It only works more or less reliably if the laptop is hibernated (but going to hibernation itself is not reliable, see above). If the machine is either turned on or in stand-by, all bets are off. And I am not talking about ending up with a messed up screen resolution. I consider that a successful docking. I am talking about blank screens (laptop and monitor), an unresponsive machine and eventually a hard reboot. By now, the colleagues sitting in the nearby offices must have learned quite a few French swear words.
And please don’t blame Windows XP. It’s not perfect but I’ve had some rock-solid Windows XP laptops, that could go through dozens of hibernate/wake-up cycles and not need a reboot until some OS security patch had to be installed. The NC6400 that I left behind when I quit HP was such an example. More stable than my home Linux laptop.
Anytime my Dell crashes, I risk loosing data in whatever files were open at the time. I’ve become pretty good at rebuilding a corrupted Thunderbird profile and importing the old emails and filters. I’ve learned to appreciate Firefox’s practice to regularly create a backup copy of the bookmarks. I know how to set up auto-save in any application that has the feature. My left hand does the “Ctrl-S” motion on my pillow a hundred times each night.
But above all, I have come to realize how good life will be when all my data, configuration and preferences are in the Cloud. When all my emails, documents, bookmarks, contacts, RSS subscriptions, calendar items are safely removed from this productivity-preventing machine. When recovering from another temperamental bout from this enemy (that I still carry home every day) will only be a matter of logging back onto whatever SaaS application I was using.
Dell has made me a true believer in Cloud Computing.
The first draft of this entry was written (on the afformentioned Linux laptop) during the 13 minutes it takes for the chkdsk.exe process to scan an 80GB hard drive after yet another crash.
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