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How ATT, Michael Jackson, and Farrah Fawcett Ruined My “Cloud” Plans

by Daryl Plummer  |  July 23, 2009  |  2 Comments

After a long hiatus from posting I am back with a bit of trivia that should make us all a little nervous about how easy cloud issues can become stuck in the mud.

Ok, so I have a lot of friends who like to depend on me for technical support whenever they want to get some piece of content or media like videos, songs, or made-up ringtones, etc. I usually point them to some site or another where they can download the stuff or point them to where they can buy what ain’t free or I let them download it from me.

What with the recent passing of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, the requests were starting to get a little too frequent.

The reason why is because I have been an MJ fan for a long time and have every song and video he ever put out plus a number of snippets of interviews and odd photos and videos that I have come across over the years like the recent release of the “hair catching on fire” video that’s all over You-Tube. Not sure when I first saw this but it was a loooonngg time ago.

So, what has this got to do with cloud computing, you ask? Bear with me.

I am also a closet Farrah fan. Loved her since the 70s (although Kate Jackson was my real favorite angel) – You can stop laughing now because all my friends have already laughed it out. Got lots of pictures of her from over the years – and no, you cannot have a link to the download site.

So, here is the cloud angle. One day, I get “a bug up my cloud” and decide to host all of my different links and some of my friend’s data and links using my windows Home Server and a few other trinkets like some Seagate RAID storage arrays. Microsoft and Seagate did a good job with these products so I figure, what the heck, I might as well try my hand at becoming a simplistic cloud service provider using it. I decided to let friends upload pictures and video to it and I would just keep it running and expand it as needed. One day, I figured I would move it to goGrid or Amazon or some such cloud-like place and…

…ahh, hell, forget all that. Here is why it failed.

So, I’m humming along with my Home Server ready to go and I check the public web access to it and – nope, won’t work. Can’t access the server from outside my home network. So, I start looking at the setup and checking the cables and checking everything I could think of to figure out where this glitch was. Then it hit me. I had just switched everything over to ATT U-Verse Internet and the router has a different firewall configuration utility than my NetGear routers.

By the way, if the next few sentences mean nothing to you then don’t feel bad. They shouldn’t have to. That’s my whole point.

After about three minutes of searching for the problem I decide I just need to forward the TCP ports 80 (http), 443 (https), and 4125 (remote desk), through my ATT firewall and I’m good to go! Nope! So, I dust off my old hacker genes and use some software that would get me banned from some eastern European countries. And, after about 5 more minutes I discover that ATT (or the 2wire router they gave me) is blocking port 4125 for some reason only the Gods can understand. What that now means is I would have to reconfigure the Home server to redirect port 4125 to another assigned number and set the registry to recognize it and violate the usage agreement with ATT to boot! Can’t do that. What the Alexander Graham Bell is going on here?!?

So, I calls up my friendly neighborhood ATT tech rep (this process took four hours) and I’m told that not only do ATT service reps not support issues like port forwarding (a way to open holes in your firewall so people can get to selected services on your network) but that he would be happy to give me the address of a web site that could teach me about router ports.

I would have slapped him had he been standing in front of me. No help there.

So, in a fit of funk, I decide to take a break and go watch some football but there’s nothing on but baseball. I  figure God hates me at this point.  And, not only that but my friends are all leaving me texts with ROFLMAO and LOLs all over them because they thought I was some Cloud expert and now I can’t get them access to my “Farrah’s best photo-sessions” archive. Not to mention that they can’t get to my MJ discography and all the online stores are swamped with people trying to download everything Michael ever did.

Ok, so here is my point:

Cloud computing is supposed to make things so we can share and deliver service and use other people’s resources and stuff like that. But this rather trivial example of networking glitches could be magnified ten-fold when people try to do things that are not so trivial if the service providers take no responsibility for making sure the path is clear. ATT takes none in this situation, and so I had to figure it out for my self. If we all (individuals and businesses alike) have to engineer our own solutions to problems created by providers who are supposed to be trying to help us, we are not likely to find satisfaction in the cloud easily.

Or, for laughs, I could say it this way. After a thriller of a ride doing some off the wall things it looks like I needed an angel sent by Charlie to help me straighten out the bad problems caused by underestimating how annoying it was to fight this problem and beat it! Where is Billie Jean when you need her, anyway?

Category: cartoon  cloud  comic  emerging-phenomena  emerging-trends  music  service-orientation  soa  soa-governance  

Tags: att  cloud  cloud-computing  farrah  farrah-fawcett  frank-kenney  home-server  michael-jackson  music  thriller  u-verse  uverse  windows  

Daryl C. Plummer
Managing VP & Gartner Fellow
18 years at Gartner
35 years IT industry

Daryl Plummer is vice president, chief of Research and chief Gartner Fellow. Mr. Plummer manages the Gartner Fellows Program, which is designed to allow senior analysts the opportunity to explore new research ideas and to elevate… Read Full Bio


Thoughts on How ATT, Michael Jackson, and Farrah Fawcett Ruined My “Cloud” Plans


  1. Myth: Cloud computing is supposed to make things [simpler]…

    Fact: Cloud computing is not magic. I only makes thing simpler for the consumer of the cloud server. The reality is, making it simple for end users to (share, get at things, etc), is hard and the state of the art is that service providers have to do a lot of hard work to make things simple.

    Morale: whenever you talk about “cloud computing” it is important to dsitinguish as to whether you are talking about it from a service consumer or service provider perspective. They are in fact oposites in most case. Provider has to worry about everything… they can’t just think of things using simple metaphors like a “cloud”… only the service consumer gets that luxury.

  2. Daryl Plummer says:

    I thought my post made it clear who was the provider and who was the consumer but your point is well taken. I was attempting to become a cloud provider to my friends who were the consumers. However, in that effort, I was a consumer of ATT “services” through U-Verse and it was not as easy for me to deliver the sloution as it should have been. Cloud computing SHOULD make things easier where it is supposed to but in this case it did not.



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