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Paradise Beach

I’m on vacation – blogging. Don’t tell my wife!

You may have read the post by Bill Pray talking about GroupWise Mobile Server and how that changed his way of working. I wanted to share a few words on my experiences on how bandwidth improvements have made me more productive.

Written at: Watching the Ocean, on vacation.

First some context. When I first ‘got online’ – like many of you it was via CompuServe and my primary reason for this – Novell patches. (I discount the previous online workings at University – Unix mail across the UK JANET academic network. Gopher, telnet and ftp.)

My first modem was 9600 baud; I went through the speeds – 14.4k, 28.8k, 33.6k – and over time added a PPP dialup account via a couple of early UK ISPs. I even had a ‘web site’ (static content) as early as 1993.

At the time these speeds were fine; content was small – and being in the UK I was billed by the second for all calls. Remember – local access isn’t free in most parts of the world!

Email was the main productivity tool; in one of my first roles – as a consultant working for a Novell VAR in the UK – GroupWise via dialup was fine; mainly text emails, no spam, no massive attachments. Patch downloads were small – remember this was before the gigabyte service packs! Dialup was ‘just fine’.

I evolved over time to dual channel ISDN – 128k data connection – and VPN tunnel into Novell. Better – but as of 1999/2000 this was starting to show limitations. Attachments grew in number and size, patches fattened up, product downloads (ISOs and betas) were starting to show up.

Fast forward to today.

My main work location is ‘on the road’. That is outside Novell’s main office, often on my home DSL line, a WiFi connection at a hotspot, working from a customer site or even accessing data via GPRS. Even on vacation my holiday home had 54MB WiFi thrown in!

High speed access seems pretty much everywhere. Even on recent trips to Europe wireless internet seems to abound, many customers have good quality fast internet connections; even my family now have 2MB DSL connections.

As a result I am productive. I can do my email (GroupWise via the GroupWise Client in Caching Mode or via Web Access), I can access Novell resources via the Novell Innerweb (powered by a multitude of Novell services and products), I can VPN into Novell and work with other services.

The end result – I am ‘always available’. Good for Novell, sometimes good for me.

The real challenge – as pointed out by Bill – is the concept of ‘presence’. Appropriate messaging and appropriate content – based on policy and location awareness. When I’m on the beach I really shouldn’t be doing email.. I do care if I’m an IT administrator and my datacentre has a critical problem and I need to start disaster recovery efforts. The same is true for any systems management processes.

I’m interested in your experiences – are you ‘tied to the network’? What are our comments on an ‘always on infrastructure’? Are you in the US and getting multi-megabit connections via cable or DSL – or are you trying to figure out connecting offices across the globe using expensive, slow, intermittent connections? Leave your comments here.

Written at: Watching the Ocean, on vacation.