The buzz is all about Microsoft's Live Mesh software andplatform this week. Live Mesh, brainchild of industry legend Ray Ozzie, probably strikes you, like most of the blogosphere, as a pretty sharp implementation of one of the long-held ideals of information technology, which is to availability of information irrespective of the device used to deliver it. This is what is basically cool about the Internet, explains much of the allure of various web-based SaaS enterprises, and maybe even describes the basis of the concept of cloud computing: bits independent of devices.
Microsoft haters will immediately fixate on the fact that, at least initially, this software will only work with Microsoft operating systems, and if they think about it a little longer, will skip ahead to worrying that it will start working on non-Microsoft operating systems. Because if the desktop is going away as the focus of individual computing, then control of the network would be the next thing your average massive software monopolist would want to focus on.
But something I haven't seen much discussion on yet is the impact that this sort of technology will have on corporate computing. Phil Wainewright has some commentary on the departure this represents from the desktop-centric philosophy which the company has been espousing even in the face of strong indications that the industry is moving in another direction, and the difficulty of monetizing the technology. The first thing that I thought about, though, was security.
It's not that synchronization technologies don't exist already, and not that I am not a fan of opening things up in the enterprise and moving to cloud service models. But what is going to happen to all those IT departments clinging to Microsoft's primary service model when this technology starts coming into every Windows desktop and every Microsoft Mobile device? What a nightmare to secure! Data going in both directions, applications synchronizing as well as files… any enterprise which hasn't already moved to a secure, platform-agnostic processing model is just about going to be forced in that direction, or expect a sudden increase in security incidents or security budget to deal with the exposure.
There is a lot of prognostication about where Microsoft is headed with Live Mesh but I'm not confident that I believe any of it and don't have my own opinion just yet, so I'll point you at TechMeme and let you be the judge of it.