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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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August 12, 2008 10:11 AM

The Downside of Hosted Apps: Gmail Goes Down

Yesterday myself and millions of other Gmail users were faced with a rather unpleasant experience: we couldn't log in to our email boxes.

As my Gmail account is my primary address, I keep most of my contacts saved online, and I don't use a desktop email client, losing access to my hosted email service could've been devastating.

Luckily the outage occurred at night and resolved itself within a couple of hours so I wasn't overly affected by it, but experiences like this do give me pause: can I trust hosted applications?

First off this isn't the first time this has happened. While this was one of the longer outages in quite some time, it's happened before and likely will happen again.

Secondly, what happens if they can't fix whatever problem happens next time? It's terrifying to think that all my emails, contacts, and so on are at risk of disappearing into the nether.

Thirdly, and I've been thinking about this for a while, hosted apps only work when you have connectivity. Now I've made the investment in a wireless EVDO modem from Verizon so I'm basically never without connectivity, but there can be huge advantages to downloading your email to a desktop client so you can access them offline.

So I guess what this is all bringing me to is that we have to be careful about getting too caught up in the hype surrounding hosted applications, computing in the cloud, and all those promises of a day where everything happens out there rather than locally on your machine.

There are definite advantages to locally run applications. While you won't find a bigger advocate for broadband and the potential of hosted apps, for the time being perhaps it'd be prudent not to rely on them as heavily as some like myself have begun to as while they offer great functionality and ease they're also totally out of our control.

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