Working in the cloud and the impact on mobile connectivity

ZeusA lot of folks are now happily working away in the cloud and more are joining that group every day.  Working in the cloud fits a lot of mobile workers’ lifestyles what with keeping data on the web and accessing it on whatever device they might be using at a given moment.  This method is very effective for many, I know Kevin is quite happy working in the cloud.  I have tried different "cloud approaches" and while they work well I have noticed they can have an impact, not always positive, when I happen to be in the field and using 3G mobile broadband connectivity.

A lot of these programs engage automatic syncing of data from the cloudto the local desktop.  They do this by default as the goal is to insurethat mobile workers always have the data at hand that might be neededwhether connected to the web or not.  This can be very useful but Ihave found this can be a negative experience the way I work.  When I amin the field I often grab my mobile PC out of the bag and connect tothe web via 3G to do something like check my email quickly or looksomething up on the web.  I have found that some of these cloud appsdetect when a new network connection is made and decide at that momentto perform the auto-sync I mentioned to keep my local data up to datewith the web data.  This has hampered my ability to get something donequickly at times, especially if the 3G connection is not that good dueto signal strength issues.  I have many times found my throughput to begreatly diminished and then realized that program X wassynchronizing a good bit of data. 

I have experienced this with FolderShare, a great syncing tool to keepdata in sync on several devices, and I’ve also seen this on variousother tools that do the same thing.  Ordinarily this syncing doesn’tinterfere with anything as it is happening in the background but like Isaid, when you are jumping online to do something quickly it doesn’ttake much to hamper what you are trying to do.  I have even seen reports of users who are seeing connectivity issues, even with WiFi, with Google Calendar Syncwhich keeps Google Calendar updated with Outlook on the desktop.  Iwouldn’t be surprised if this particular issue was magnified using a 3Gconnection as waking the device up and jumping online might get in theway with this automatic syncing.  For the reasons I have mentioned whatI always do with these syncing tools is to set them to only manuallyupdate if that option is available.  That makes sure that I can jumponline quickly when needed and not impact that task whenever possible.Of course that means I need to remember to regularly tell the programsto perform the update, something that I am bad at doing.

The benefits that these cloud apps can bring probably far outweigh theimpact on productivity that I’ve described and most likely won’t impactmost users much at all.  Workers like me who are constantly jumping onand offline to get stuff done quickly might find that to be too much ofan impact however, especially if multiple cloud tools are in use atonce.  It’s just something to keep in mind if that describes you so youcan make the decision on how to handle that if so.  It can also have anegative impact on battery power too if you are syncing a large amountof data like many do with FolderShare so keep that in mind too.

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