If The Cloud Is Too Slow For The US, What Hope Does Australia Have?


Whenever I run into people who gush about the potential for cloud computing, I tend to think: "that's all very well, but storing lots of stuff online isn't very practical when you pay for everything you donwload and upload and the speeds are often still so abysmal." Many of those people tend to be from the US, where uncapped home Internet access is still the norm (albeit under threat) and there's a range of high-speed choices in major urban areas.

Yet it seems that you don't need to have Australia's substandard broadband to be worried about that. At the Storage Visions conference in Las Vegas earlier this week, analyst Tom Coughlin raised the same issue as a potential problem for US users as well:

For ordinary users with ordinary bandwidth in the US, the cloud will be an augmentation of the storage they have at home. It may be different for other countries where they have better bandwidth.

Honestly, if American users are worrying about cloud access, we should be full-scale panicking. Can you see your future in the cloud constrained by speed and access issues? Share your thoughts in the comments.


    Panic is an understatement. If Conroy and Telstra (Sol's in Vegas at the moment so Telstra will soon be owned by the Mob) had any choice we will be going to dial up speeds via ADSL with it being so slow.
    I love the idea of dropbox and Window Live ect but practically we cant always be in range of wireless and the such and iphones cant be tethered and there is very little open wifi (with quotas to consider) that its a good concept but the power's to be see no profit in it so they wont encourage it.

    i think it would be more like a willy willy in australia

    The issue isn't so much bandwidth, but latency. Domestically, Australia has fantastic bandwidth - better than much of the US (ignoring the areas that are just now getting Uvers & FIOS). But really, for cloud computing, bandwidth isn't the primary concern. What is important is latency, and what is often referred to as "data turns" - i.e. how many times the app on the desktop has to go back and forth to the server to get data. Given how far and how many hops our data has to go to hit Europe or the US (where most of the servers are), our apps will always feel "slower" due to limitations of the speed of light. Fortunately, as more links are built (such as the new SYD-Hawaii link), the "perceived speed" of these apps will improve. Additionally, more and more companies are hosting mirrors in Aus, which also makes things much, much faster (Apple & Yahoo do this frequently).

    Personally, I think the concept of cloud computing for personal use is somewhat silly (I'm referring to desktop replacements apps - such as word processing, etc - other cloud apps do make sense), but I'm often working "disconnected", so it doesn't make much sense for me. Will be interesting to see what happens in this realm, though!

    Yeah, you are NOT getting my stuff in a cloud as long as retrieving it directly lowers my allocation!

    Cannot agree more Angus. With a large proportion of internet users in Australia receiving their interweb feeds from Telstra and Optus they'll never be able to afford to cloud compute. And until country-wide infrastructure is upgraded to world standards the rest of us will find it slow going. A real shame.

    We also have the problem in Australia that nearly all major cloud apps are hosted overseas, and no matter what the network speed, we have network latency problems which impact usability.

    Sorry, but i doubt if it is possible for Cloud happening in Australia because...

    1. Shaping. how can you keep uploading and downloading data from internet when there is the stupid shaping. That is a joke.

    2. Speed. well, fast internet is way tooooo expensive here and thus people are stuck with slow connection. how can slow connection make good use of cloud?

    3. government. if government is still some kinda technology-blind and try to "block" the internet, no way the cloud is ever going to happen

    Here in Australia online-based services will never flourish, even those based overseas won't attract the majority of Aussies due to our download (and subsequent shaping) limits.
    I don't do alot online, unfortunately, because monthly download limits aren't adequate enough for most tasks (especially in a share house situation).
    I have to schedule downloading of large files (podcasts, clips, etc) in the off-peak period which is a huge deterent and most of the time I can't be bothered as it is a real pain.

    So until we can get better plans for more cost-effective prices, I don't see it happening.

    We should really be increasing the mirroring of data here, or making it more attractive for overseas companies to do it, then we SHOULD be able to access LOCAL DATA FOR FREE and only be metered for overseas data.

    The opportunities for business represented by cloud computing are huge. Nick Carr’s “IT Doesn’t Matter” does a good job of explaining how utility computing will become a reality in the same way that electricity and telephones have become outsourced utility services.
    In my professional activities I have seen this in action. I have seen relatively inexpensive web delivered applications providing quick solutions to business issues which have be rapidly deployed globally (to places with an internet connection) with no need to wait for over worked IT departments to commission servers, databases or write systems.
    The realisation of the benefits of software as a service has been compromised however by network speeds. I agree with JrFoxAus, with respect to web delivered applications housed off shore the issue is more to do with latency than bandwidth.
    I have written to Stephen Conroy, Minister for telecommunications and the internet, on this matter, warning that Australian business risks being severely left behind if something is not done about improving on the three undersea cable connections we have with the rest of the planet. His departments reply was that we have sufficient capacity.
    Our government needs to make sure that as well as dealing with issues with local bandwidth, it focuses on ensuring that the Internet is capable of supporting Australian business in a global marketplace. Whether this is through increased connections to the rest of the planet by the laying of more undersea cable or encouraging the investment in local mirrors by off-shore SaaS providers the issues affecting cloud computing must be resolved. Otherwise all we can do is give up hope and panic as we fall behind other countries as they take advantage of all the benefits cloud computing has to offer.

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