The aroma of zingers is everywhere… and fried chicken in multiple avatars is on trays being carried by some really hungry people and some not so hungry ones. But as I peered through this aisle jam of chicken-laden trays, I noticed an old lady carrying an iPad like you hold a tray. My eyes then deciphered this mystery and I murmured, ‘Aha! She’s an aayah and is carrying the iPad of the cute brat who is accompanied by his parents. The mother looked harried and said aloud, ‘Will my child be able to connect to his cloud account here, dear. He has to do some serious thinking about his project too.’
The husband looked around nervously and answered, ‘I think so. I’ve requested the manager to give me the wifi password.’ The manager made his through the hungry crowd and came to this gentleman and said, ‘Sorry sir, we cannot give you wifi access here. Company policy.’
‘But you must,’ wailed the gentleman’s wife, ‘Our 3G account isn’t working here and you can see my son is in tears now.’
‘Sorry Ma’am, we stick to rules,’ said the manager and walked away.
The lady then looked all around and found everyone just enjoying their chicken and all she could hear was a lot of Mmmm…s all around. ‘No one is doing any work in this small town,’ she said aloud.
She was probably a little too loud because one local turned towards her and asked, ‘We have done our work in the office. A lot of work with my pen.’ He even waved his under-Rs 10 ball-point pen at her.
‘This is why India isn’t moving ahead,’ she said, in a less shrill tone this time and to no one in particular.
Her husband motioned her to remain calm even as he said, ‘Koi baat nahin, I’m sure you’ll be back to a connected life by tomorrow evening.’
‘But he could have finished his work that lies unfinished on the cloud,’ she said. This time she said in a tone that suggested she wanted to befuddle the tech-nincompoops sitting around her. She added, ‘Cloud computing, you know. Even this little child of mine remains on his cloud platform for hours.’
The man who had earlier waved his pen looked up from his half-eaten chicken and decided this needed a reply. So he wiped his lips and said, ‘Madam, we are all on cloud nine. We are enjoying our chicken pieces.’
‘Oh! You untouchables!’ hissed our lady from a big city where 3G and cloud computing was the norm and walked out of that fast food eatery with her husband, kid, and aayah holding an iPad like a tray, in tow.
‘Let’s go now, we’re getting late,’ said Specky. We were planning to go for a movie and I was jostling with my writing deadlines.
I said, ‘Just a minute more. Let me mail this last article and then we’re off.’
Another five minutes later we were seven floors down and in our car. Specky was driving as I wanted to click a few pictures of the Delhi traffic for another article that I had been planning for long. As we sped towards the cinema hall that was a good 20 kms from our place, my phone rang.
The editorial assistant was on the other side and he told me that the mail I had sent mentioned that one article and two pictures were attached… ‘But you have missed attaching the article, Arvind ji,’ he said.
‘Oh my God! Did I?’
‘Yes,’ he said, ‘and if you can please mail it fast because the paper is being prepared for printing and everyone is waiting just for your article.’
I told him I was on my way to the see a movie and could imagine the editorial office of the paper peaking on nervousness.
The editorial assistant asked in a voice that was obviously subdued, ‘So do we drop your article, sir?’
‘No need to do that,’ I said, ‘Check your mail now.’
Even Specky could hear the surprised exclamation of the editorial assistant as he asked, ‘How could you do that?’
I told him that I saved all my posts and articles on the cloud and this makes them accessible to me all the time everywhere. So all I had done was to access my cloud folder, copy the article to a mail addressed to him and click ‘send’… and all this was done even as I was telling him that I was off to the cinema hall!
The editorial assistant ended the call by thanking me and calling himself a new-age untouchable as he wasn’t yet on the cloud.
Raj was a worried man. He was heading a start-up, worked with a skeleton work-force, travelled often, and was always stressed out because of the hefty phone bills that were an outcome of long calls with his employees when he was out.
I met Raj when he was busy explaining a legal point to one of his assistants sitting 500 miles away. A while later I asked, ‘I heard you literally dictating details from that file of yours.’
‘Yes, I have the vital details of a contract with me here and some of the points were needed to complete the draft that my assistant wanted.’
‘So why do you carry all these papers with you always. Why not just have the documents accessible on the cloud? That is where you can share folders with documents for a select few of your employees and you too can access them whenever you need them. You can also have documents, excel sheets, and databases that can be edited by multiple users.’ I explained to him that cloud storage isn’t relevant for just documents, but also for av-files, picture files, scans, and audio.
‘Seems interesting,’ said Raj, ‘I only hope it doesn’t load my already thin budget, because it wouldn’t be wise to overspend on a fancy storage system.’
It took me some time to explain to him that cloud computing wasn’t just a storage system. It was more like a communication convergence point where, like a conference call, connected people could share their concerns and unlike a mere phone call, could actually finalise a decision in real words! I also told him that improved accessibility was just one of the features and that streamlined processes, effective monitoring of projects, and improved flexibility would help him focus on tasks that really required him.
Raj was still somewhat convinced until he asked me, ‘But this cloud genii cannot get me talent that is far away from where my office is… or can it?’
I thought for a while and said, ‘Yes, it can. Once you have setup an effective cloud platform, you can actually mention on your visiting card that you have offices in London, New York, and Tokyo!’
I told him that cloud computing simply helps you transcend the distance dilemma… and that he can have a really talented person sitting in a far-away country help him with his projects. So he doesn’t really have to drown because he doesn’t have good people available in his town. ‘Recruit the best globally,’ I told him, ‘and let them work from where they are.’
Raj looked at me with a smile and whispered, ‘You’ve just made me feel like a new-age untouchable!’
Why be a new-age untouchable?
Yes, why be a new-age untouchable when you can vroom on global talent and see your ideas fly high? Why remain grounded when you can transcend distance and boundaries? Why crawl when you can move at the speed of thought? Why be bound by time when you can have a profitable life 24×7? Why keep saying, ‘What is this thing called cloud computing?’
18 April 2014