I recently had the unpleasant experience of having no internet access for a weekend, following some issues while changing ISP, and I discovered very quickly just how much I rely on it. At the exact moment of writing this for example, I am sat at my PC using a cloud-based version of Word, listening to Spotify, and watching emails pop through in the window behind. Furthermore I have a VoIP phone to my right, a 4G connected phone to my left and a Wi-Fi connected tablet directly in front of me. I’m not just reliant – I’m addicted.

Internet of What?

That addiction can only get worse. The much-fabled ‘Internet of Things’, for example, is fast becoming a reality. You see, we’re now in an age where an estimated 8.7 billion electronic devices are connected to the internet. In fact, according to Cisco, we’re expecting to see 50 billion devices connecting by 2020. That’s a number so big as to be almost incomprehensible. I’m sure that very soon our fridges will be doing our grocery shopping for us, the dog will have a public IP address and suitcases will come with built-in tracking devices (though I’m sure airlines will still find a way to lose them). Films like Minority Report and Fifth Element offered up radical utopian/dystopian ideas that are less unbelievable now than when they were conceived. I’m not proposing that we’ll have flying cars and pre-crime prevention any time soon, but ‘smart houses’ are only a few years away, in fact there are already thermostats that work without us puny humans telling them what to do.

With great power…

It’s an extremely exciting prospect, especially for the technology worshippers amongst us, but it’s not without its darker side. There are plenty of examples I could choose from, like recent legislation cracking down on internet trolls or the whole net neutrality debate, but I'm going to look at the Hungarian internet tax controversy as it also illustrates just how much data we churn through.They were proposing a tax equating to approximately £0.40 per GB of data usage. I’m not certain precisely how much data I use monthly, but after a bit of digging around I’ve confirmed the following:

  • Netflix uses approximately 3GB per hour for streaming HD content
  • Spotify uses around 144MB per hour
  • An hour of typical web browsing can use up to 25MB
  • Youtube equates to 250MB per hour

Based solely on fifteen hours of each of the above per month, one might find themselves using around 51GB of data per month and paying £20.40 in tax for their personal internet use. Luckily for the netizens of Hungary, the proposed tax was overthrown entirely – in fact it started a wave of large-scale protests that involved computer parts being thrown at the ruling party’s HQ.

Life in the clouds

In my weekend without the internet I went for extra walks with my dog (he loved it), picked up a book I’d been promising/threatening myself to start, and discovered that all my favourite computer games need an internet connection to play. This last point got me thinking about cloud services and businesses. Since the majority of a business’ income is via the web (a subject our MD blogged about recently), I’d say it’s vital that they host in a location with an ultra-reliable internet connection. For some businesses, that’s a wheezing on-premises server room with a non-resilient internet line. For others it’s our hyper-resilient data centres. I know which I’d choose.

I survived two days without an internet connection: could you say the same about your business?

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