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Welcome to the Cloud - It may be scarier than you thought - Cloud Computing

Posted: 12.10.09

The following is purely fictional. No small children, animals, or data were hurt in the making of this story. Reader’s discretion advised. Content contains suggestive and potentially rude ideas, loud music, and sex scenes that may not be appropriate for readers with an IQ of less than 110.

Winter in Seattle, and the sun had set on a cold and rainy Friday night. Jaymes couldn’t stand the thought of one more cup of coffee to try and fight the fatigue of a long day and even longer week. He just had three more paragraphs to write, make the finals sums in the spreadsheet and then paste all that into the PowerPoint slide for Monday’s presentation in Chicago. A red-eye flight for him but if this project was approved he could get some help and maybe even take a day or two off—once things got rolling.

The proposal was a joint effort between Jaymes and Margret in the Dallas office, and they had been trying to find a better way to exchange information that would be fast and efficient. Email was OK, but lacked the immediacy needed. IM worked fine but was file limited and sometime unpredictable, so they were using a collaborative set of online programs that would instantly make the latest version available to both of them. Editing in real time with a colleague seemed like a dream come true, it was as if they were working in the same office on one machine with two keyboards. They used IM for chat and even though they were two time zones apart the distance wasn’t noticeable.

Margret told Jaymes she was starting to burn out, it was 11:00pm in Dallas and she had been at it since seven that morning. Give me what you’ve got Jaymes told her, and I’ll pull it all together, I’m almost finished here. He turned to check the now cold cup of coffee just as the lights went out and the room went dark and deadly silent. It took a couple of seconds to register in his fatigued brain—it was quiet—the PCs were dead, the UPS didn’t kick in. A screaming “Oh no!” came out of him as he jumped up out the chair. Disoriented in the dark, he tumbled over it, hitting his head on the edge of the desk and slumping to the floor.

He didn’t know how long he had been unconscious, his face was sticky and he was afraid to touch the pounding pain in his head for fear of what he’d find. He climbed up on his hands and knees and stayed like that hoping he wouldn’t feel blood trailing down his cheek. Felling somewhat stable, he crawled to a wall and used it to stand up. He had never been in this room with lights off and since all the lights in whole building must be off as well as outside it was a dark and featureless as being in a cave.

He felt his way around the wall hoping to find a reference point, and get to his desk where he thought he remembered leaving his mobile phone, or maybe if the cell towers were out he could find a desk phone, but that wouldn’t work if the PBX was out, maybe it had a working UPS.

He reached what he was sure was the edge of his desk and began feeling his way along its top when the lights were restored. Blinding at first since his pupils had been so dilated from the pitch blackness of the windowless and closed office, he almost fell over. But it was still deadly quiet. He had to get the computer booted and get in touch with Margaret. He called her on her mobile. She was in the car almost home. “Where did you go—emergency biobreak? You gotta lay off that coffee Jaymes.”

He explained the situation and then, fearful of what her answer might be, asked what she had done last. “Posted the file, shut down and left, what’d you think I’d do? I’m almost home and beat to hell. At this point I don’t care about the project, the weather, and barely about you.”

OK, he said, told her to take a couple of days off and he’d wrap it up. The computer was up now, he logged in and waited for the browser to load; his head hurt like hell and he decided he better go to the men’s room take a look at it and see if he could find some aspirin. He was shocked at the amount of dried blood in his hair and on the side of his face and could see the welt the fall had made. But after a little gentle washing he was relieved to see it didn’t start bleeding again—meaning he wasn‘t going to need stitches. There wasn’t any aspirin, rules about dispensing medicine and insurance rates; he’d get some at 7-11 on the way home.

Back in the office, the browser was blank. He clicked on a few icons and looked for the docs—but they weren’t there. The folders were empty. He began four different searches, looked in the trash can, nothing was found. “That’s freekin impossible,” he shouted at the room, “you can’t just lose six months of work because of a power failure.” He opened the app, started a new file, and saved it. Then he rebooted the computer. Opened the browser, opened the folder and the new file was there, just as it should be. He froze in his chair. It was gone, the project was completely gone. And now he realized he had no backup, it was all being saved online. Surely the web provider had a backup. But who should he call, and on a late Friday night? He didn’t dare call Margret—she’d charter a Lear jet and come and kill him with her bare hands.

“The cloud,” he yelled, “The freeking god-be-all cloud!” He was too tired, too shocked to even cry. He kicked the chair backwards, grabbed his backpack and walked out, leaving the office door open, lights and computer on, it no longer mattered—he’d start looking for a job on Monday.