Interview With a Technology Evangelist, Mr Vijay Mukhi

Which application areas can leverage Cloud Computing?
Earlier, most of us saw computing and technology in the form of desktop PCs, until laptop later came by. Today, we’ve got our emails on our laptop or netbook, and it doesn’t end there, because many of us might have email on multiple devices, mobile phones, desktop PCs and such. So it’s a good idea to put documents and emails in the cloud, so you can access them from anywhere through any Internet-enabled device. So ideally emails would be the single-largest use of the cloud. The lowest priority for a company would be, to put their databases in the cloud, because of two main reasons, the first being that they don’t trust the cloud. The second reason is that even now, for mission critical applications— such as a company’s PR chain, supply chain and critical things that run a business on an hour-to-hour basis—we don’t have good-enough networks or infrastructure to support the cloud.

What sort of infrastructure does the cloud require?
There are two crucial things, the first being, good bandwidth leading the country. For example, a company might have good bandwidth, but if the ISP that is leading the bandwidth is not good enough, then things don’t work out. If you’re someone who’s always on the move, whether you’re on field, or in your can, you need very good wireless broadband, which you don’t have yet. So unless these things get better, I don’t see the cloud really taking off. So the primary concerns would be Internet bandwidth and infrastructure for Wireless connectivity.

Online media sharing like YouTube were a good reason why we needed good Internet bandwidth. Now, is cloud computing a good reason too?
I agree that the more video there is the more bandwidth will be needed, and with the cloud coming in, there will be more and more applications being used which again will require good bandwidth. I don’t see our telecom services, even now, looking at data. They’re still concentrating more on phone calls and SMSs. So, they’re mainly looking into communication as opposed to data transfer and Internet.

How long will it take before we get this sort of bandwidth?
Though Internet penetration is growing in our country, if you compare India to the rest of the world, we are yet far behind when it comes to Internet penetration. Also, even for people who have good Internet bandwidth, when watching a YouTube video, you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to see seamless playback. At times you’ll see it flawlessly and at times, it just won’t work at all. My experience has been with Internet providers like MTNL, which supposedly offers the fastest bandwidth. Then, on my BlackBerry, I have the Vodafone Internet service and I’ve also used the Reliance and TATA. But, the point is that none of them are really reliable, because at times they’re very good, but at times, half the day the Internet wouldn’t work.

You told us the advantages of cloud computing such as emails, but do people really know about the technology and how to use it?
The cloud is something that you don’t even realize that it exists, for example we don’t know where Google stores our emails and data, all we know is that it’s available anywhere and everywhere. So for the common user, he will not know where his data is, but he can access it from his laptop, mobile phone or any Internet-enabled device for that matter.

So if we take it for granted that Cloud Computing is a success, would that mean that five years down the line, instead of storing much data on hard drives, people could use the cloud to do most of their storage and computing?
Now that we’ll have 3G by the end of the year, I would say that 3G is the best thing that will really drive the cloud. Now, a lot of money is being invested in 3G and how will all the money we recovered? Well, most people say that a voice call on 3G is of poor quality when compared to a voice call on 2G, because 3G wasn’t ideally meant for voice calls, it was meant for data. So, in that case, they’d want us to use cloud computing, which is likely to make the cloud popular very soon.

People seem to be talking about it more than actually using it, so do you think that the cloud is just a buzz word?
Currently abroad, especially in the United States of America, people are more interested and are using the cloud more than in India. And people in India really don’t seem to be bothered.

Published Date: Jun 09, 2010 03:33 pm | Updated Date: Jun 09, 2010 03:33 pm