Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Your Grid Ate My Battery!

I've read a lot lately about the prospect of doing cloud computing on mobile devices.

I first read about the idea at ThinkInGrid (in Spanish, no less--they've since switched to English and it's much easier for me to digest!).

Lately, with the attention on cloud computing and with Google announcing Android for mobile devices, I've seen more references. Nikita over at GridGain blogged about it and subsequently got a bunch of attention: Bob Lozano picked up on the thread, and Olga Kharif at Business Week even did a column on it.

However, with the exception of Alex Miller's post on the subject, everyone seems to skip over a very salient point: battery life is perhaps the most important feature in a mobile device.

CPUs use tons of power. Mobile OSs work very hard to preserve battery life as much as possible. My phone has games built in to it, and if I make the mistake of not exiting one of those games after playing, my battery will be gone within an hour.

While I love the idea of cloud computing, I'd never trade a single cycle of my phone's CPU in exchange for shorter battery life. I don't want a thousand free minutes--I want to be able to leave Bluetooth on all the time without draining my battery!

And this doesn't even get into the question of bandwidth.

I do think that there is life beyond servers for grid computing: we have customers with desktops and even laptops contributing cycles. But if it doesn't have an AC adaptor plugged into it, it's not going to do very much good on a grid...

Photo credit: gracey