The idea of Office 2.0, that you can move your applications and data into the cloud has people on both sides of the fence. Some argue that they feel more safe, knowing that their information is always accessible to them from any computer. Others argue that unless you can maintain a local replica of your data you are at the whim and mercy of the availability of power and internet access providers. They point to the recent internet and power outages in San Francisco as an example. I often find myself in this camp. Today, I got a new perspective on Office 2.0 and while I'm not sure I'm any closer to a conclusion one way or another I thought I would share the experience...

20070903LightningStrikeinFrontyard.jpgEarly today, we had a downpour accompanied by... a thunderstorm accompanied by... a lightning strike... at the power pole... in our front yard.

I'm still assessing the damage but the net effect so far is that it blew out the power transformer and sent a massive power surge into the house over the power and phone lines. This did several things: first, it shocked my daughter who was upstairs turning on a light, it also shocked me, right through the keyboard. Then it  blew out much of the network equipment in my office. Fortunately, while it reset the computers, they all appear to be unharmed. The surge also blew out my PBX and all phones in the house. Fortunately, most of my Y2K preparations served me well as the standby power systems kicked in automatically. Of course, with no working network gear I could not connect to the internet to connect to my hosted Domino server. Fortunately, I use Lotus Notes, so I switched to island mode where I had full access to all of my data to within a few minutes of the surge via local replicas with no loss of data.

I was sitting at my desk, working on my presentation for the Office 2.0 conference when all of this happened.

After I checked to see that my family was safe and that the house was not on fire I thanked the Lord for His protection. Then, I started thinking about my presentation. Well, I couldn't really think about it because there was so much to do to get things working again, but I did have these two thoughts:

1. If I were using Office 2.0 applications, I could take comfort that my data was sitting safe in the cloud where I could not reach it.

2. If I were using Office 2.0 applications, I could take comfort that as soon as I got to a location with internet and power and a computer with a browser, I could get back to work as if nothing had happened.

So, in an instant, I was able to experience for myself both sides of the O20 accessibility argument. As I mentioned earlier, I use Lotus Notes, which when implemented properly is naturally fault resilient, but there remains much to think about here. I keep a local Domino server (which lightning strike knocked out of service) and a second dedicated Domino server off-site, hosted by an internet provider. So, in a sense, I suppose that I could argue that I'm using some Office 2.0 concepts, though that would be a stretch.

Where Office 2.0 applications did come through for me was in the area of phones - perhaps not the traditional O20 application we hear about often. I was able to set up a Ring Central hosted PBX account and have a rudimentary system running quickly. (To be fair, I had actually signed up last week, so everything was already in place.) This was a big help, and I will probably not replace my local PBX as a result. As far as my data and applications, I'm not ready to give up local access to those but I will continue to explore ways to use certain hosted services, even if they are my own virtual server somewhere in the cloud. It may only be Office 1.5 but I feel safer that way.

Tomorrow, I'll see what the power company did over night to replace the transformer, call the phone company to arrange repairs of the dead lines, and assess the damage to the equipment. Oh, and I'll thank my local wireless ISP - Frazier Mountain Internet Services - for their prompt and immediate support. Scott and Barbara Rosen are wonderful. As far as the damaged stuff, well it's just stuff and can be replaced. perhaps some of these functions will even be replaced with Office 2.0 applications. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I thank God, my family is safe.

[Update: Kathy just pointed out that at least I will have a unique story to tell at the conference this week. Not my kind of story, but I'll go with it.]

Discussion/Comments (3):

A look at two sides of Office 2.0 Accessibility

Eric: glad to hear everyone is safe and sound. You never cease to amaze me with your ability to take a lesson from events! Hope you get everything sorted out and looking forward to seeing you in SF at Office 2.0 later this week.

Posted at 9/4/2007 7:15:03 AM by Marc Orchant

A look at two sides of Office 2.0 Accessibility

It's hard to wrap my mind around Office 2.0. Perhaps the off-line capabilities in Lotus Notes spoiled me. I can work in off-line mode, and whenever a network connection is available the data will sync with the server.

I like the idea of saving my data to "the cloud". Drive W: ?

Think, family photos, and other important data.

I'll try to describe the concept of "the cloud" drive.

Each cloud is composed of many, perhaps 10, servers. It works like a RAID disk array. A small piece of each file is saved to each server. You'd only need, say, 7 of the servers to get your data. For security each of the 10 servers is owned and operated by a different company. One server many be owned by Google in the USA, and another could be a bank in Australia, etc. No single company has your whole file. They'd need to conspire with the other companies to reassemble your encrypted file, and after all that, they’d need your encryption key.

It's an interesting idea. It's like a digital "safety deposit box".

Posted at 9/4/2007 7:47:48 PM by Brian Green

Lotus Notes as a digital "safety deposit box".

Brian, what a fantastic idea. This would take care of my primary resistance to putting my data in the cloud. I've considered doing something like setting up a cluster this with various hosted Domino providers; however, the current IBM licensing model completely discourages end-users (and most SMBs) from using Lotus Notes in this most productive way. Too bad.

Great idea. I think you should blog about this. I'll support you!


Posted at 9/5/2007 8:54:55 AM by Eric Mack

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