Why is the cloud optional

The cloud simply means someone else’s server. It is an ongoing cost that somebody has to pay for every month when the bills come due. Sooner or later it will be shut down, crash, get hacked, or break. And it won’t come back…

Any device that depends on the cloud is brokenjust maybe not yet

When this happens, any device tied to the cloud becomes useless. This has already happened several times. This is a terrible way to design devices, no matter how comical or cute.

Then why use it at all?

So why do devices use the cloud? Several reasons:

  • It’s convenient for the supplier to develop and iterate in the cloud
  • It’s great for the supplier to be able to gather data about consumers
  • It’s sometimes easier for the non-tech-savvy consumer to get things working

Suppliers use the cloud because it benefits them and most consumers don’t see any immediate disadvantages.

Why do you use it then?

I believe in the idea of data as a toxic asset and would love to avoid the cloud completely. However, there was one problem I could not solve using standard web technology: device discovery. Most people have no idea how to locate a server on their own network. Plus, most networks use DHCP to assign addresses, which may change over time. Protocols such as MDNS are not widely supported. A mobile app could do it, but an app also has large ongoing maintenance overhead plus large initial development cost. WebRTC can kind of do it where it’s allowed and supported. I use the cloud as a form of internal DNS.

You can learn more about the data we use to do this here.