Mouse pointer outage – the dawn of Everything as a Service

Our writer Alex grapples with life in the era of Everything as a Service; here’s how he learned to stop worrying and love the cloud.

Pranita Tamang
3 MIN|March 6, 2020

Technology tends to creep up on you. Bit by bit, if you’ll excuse the pun. Little innovations appear all the time, added conveniences that barely register in your mind’s eye, part of the gradual tectonic drift that is our shift toward new technologies. It seems to me that our ascent into the cloud has been a journey so smooth that we don’t even realise we’re moving. Rarely do I actually stop and think: where are we right now, and where are we headed? It took an earth-shattering incident recently to make me take stock and think seriously about one particularly prevalent tech trend: Everything as a Service. Things I never would have imagined now live in the cloud. And sometimes they go offline.

The Great Windows 10 Search Bar Fault of 2020

OK, so maybe in twenty years people won’t be asking each other: ‘Where were you when Windows 10 Search Bar went down?’ But it seemed like a pretty big deal to me at the time. My younger, less grizzled colleagues took it in their stride, but my generation grew up on MS-DOS and 3.5-inch floppy disks (aka 3D-printed ‘save’ icons). Technology years are like dog years, which makes me a tech boomer to them.

I reacted to the Great Windows 10 Search Bar Fault of 2020 like an eighth century serf would to a total solar eclipse. A fundamental part of the operating system abruptly stopped working, because it was connected to something out there, in the mysterious and uncontrollable off-premises world. To me, this was akin to suddenly encountering a mouse pointer outage and discovering that I’m now living in a world of Cursor as a Service. An odd moment of technology vertigo, when you look down and realise just how high we’ve gone.

Old man yells at cloud

You may be thinking: ‘OK tech boomer, get with the times.’ But I assure you, this isn’t just a case of resisting the future: I love the cloud. I love the fact that I’m writing this article in Warsaw, Poland (dzień dobry!) on Office 365, storing it in Fifty Five and Five’s cloud platform of choice, using Microsoft Teams to stay in touch and share stuff with everyone back home while I’m away from the London mothership. I love the fact that this kind of tech-enabled flexibility is becoming the new normal.

But, after the Windows 10 Search Bar fault event, I can definitely understand why some business leaders still have a degree of nephophobia. There is a lingering sense of risk in relying on services that exist only in the intangible ether of the cloud. Nobody likes the idea of losing control, and events like last year’s huge Capital One hack haven’t helped to assuage cloud security concerns. But, the cloud is here, and we all need to get used to it.

You can’t hold back the tide

The simple, unavoidable facts of the matter are that the cloud isn’t going anywhere. Everything as a Service is only going to become everythinger and the majority of businesses are going to have to confront it head on, embrace it and make it work. Otherwise, you’re selling cassette tapes in the age of Spotify. Let me know how that turns out for you.

For some, digital transformation to keep pace with this technological sea change may be a hard sell. But it’s a necessary one. And it requires getting into the mindset of a cloud-sceptic: understanding their concerns, their worst-case scenarios, but also the crucial, unique business benefits that motivate them to make the change.

How I learned to stop worrying and love the cloud

So, maybe the search bar outage was a blessing in disguise. I needed a reminder of how much I rely on the cloud and what I’d be missing without it. I’ve grown as a person. It’s made me a better writer. Thanks, Microsoft. Just please, don’t take away my beloved search bar ever again. I’ve learned my lesson.

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