Over the holidays, I was reading a novel about time travel on my iPhone. Then I came across an actual academic study about time travel and the Internet. Two physicists from Michigan studied Internet searches, tweets, hashtags and the like. They looked for “prescient” mentions of current events at a date before they occurred. You know, from people from the future. Would time travelers have anything interesting to tell us about Comet ISON or Pope Francis, before they entered the news cycle?
Well, it turns out that the researchers found no evidence of time travelers.
I then recalled a conversation from a few weeks earlier with a former colleague, who used to be the IT director at a startup founded in 2006. Back then, he was looking for a way to accelerate some of our in-house apps between our offices in Silicon Valley and Canada without having to upgrade the T1 line.
Budgets and bandwidth being tight, my colleague chose two of the cheapest and simplest WAN optimization boxes he could find. It took him about one day to setup the WAN optimizer in the California office, and four more days including travel to get the other WAN optimizer racked and running at the Canadian site.
I wondered, what if I could travel back in time, and send the 2006 version of my IT director something really cool from 2014?
If I could, I’d tell him about Amazon Web Services (AWS). Started in 2006, AWS is now the leading provider of cost-effective and secure cloud computing infrastructure. Think of AWS as an elastic, pay-as-you go data center utility. Instead of making an up-front investment in hardware, my IT director might have set up cloud-based app hosting through AWS — in locations close to each office — for geographic diversity and disaster recovery. But he might have balked at the cost, and worried about security, high latency and sketchy performance issues of the Internet as a host to our intellectual property to the Cloud.
I imagined telling him about Silver Peak Cloud Acceleration for AWS — how it improves data transfers to and from AWS by as much as 80 percent by correcting packet loss over the Internet, while reducing (deduplicating) the amount of data transmitted to and from AWS. It also accelerates encrypted traffic. If my IT director had had these tools available back in 2006, could he have saved a week’s worth of travel and toil across North America?
He could have simply implemented our in-house apps on Amazon EC2 instances, and Silver Peak cloud acceleration via the AWS Marketplace. And to make it even easier, he could have purchased a subscription with AWS 1-Click fulfillment — which we announced support for today — and be up and running in minutes. He could have reduced both the latency and cost associated with cloud hosted apps, while saving on hardware…
Coulda, shoulda, woulda.
In that time travel study, the authors put out a request to time travelers to issue prescient Internet communication, using hashtags: #ICannotChangeThePast2 or #ICanChangeThePast2 before August, 2013. The absence of either of these hashtags on Twitter (when they searched for them in September, 2013) may or may not indicate the impossibility of time travel, and the ability to change the past.
So I decided it’s better to focus on how we continue to drive simplicity and empower communication now and into the future. My new year’s resolution for 2014:
Image credit: WikiMedia Commons