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Friday, November 20, 2009

Feeling a bit cloudy

Unless you have not touched the Internet in the past year or so, you would no doubt be bombarded by the latest hype called Cloud Computing while the poster boys of yesterday B2B, B2C, E-Commerce are conspicuously ignored. Surprisingly, those advocates seem to imply Cloud only applies to those modern often rehashed applications.

According to those definitions in here and here, no one can argument that the good IMAP, whose RFC was ratified before the word Cloud Computing was ever conned, does not fit the definition of a Cloud computing application.

Since GMail is now supporting both POP3, which I have been using ever since I used e-mail, and IMAP, I have decided to give this cloud application a try to see what kind of adjustment I had to made or what other problem I can see.

Of course, I am not quite ready to give up my Desktop e-mail client and I am using Thunderbird as the IMAP client. Here are the main issues:

How could I take my mail from GMail to another ISP

In the past, when I switch ISP, I simply change the e-mail client's POP3 servers addresses to my ISP and to tell my friends to switch addresses. Since I am using an e-mail redirection service, I did not have to bother my friends and associates. My e-mail storage is the central repository of all my e-mail correspondence from various ISPs over the years. As long as I have a sound back up policy to adhere to, I do not lose them.

However, with the IMAP, the messages are located on the IMAP server and I cannot take the collection from say the GMail IMAP and give that to XYZ's IMAP and from there to accumulate e-mail sent to XYZ's server. Perhaps it is peculiar to GMail, I don't even have the control on when a file is actually deleted.

I guess this is not uncommon to many person's concern with using Cloud Computing. How can I retrieve the data that ultimately belonging to the user of the Cloud application when that association is broken?

I cannot find anyway to pick up all my e-mail from GMail IMAP and transplant that to another ISP's IMAP. Or could that ever be possible with IMAP technology? The best I could do is to employ a offline e-mail archive program.

How do I read/compose/search my e-mail when I am disconnected

The next annoying issue with IMAP is like Web Mail and you may as well embedded the browser in a Desktop application and calling that a 'IMAP' client. No Internet means no ability to browse through your mails or prepare the responses.

Yes, you can set up your e-mail client to operate in offline mode and when that happens it will download the messages to your client program.

It is not a matter if it can be done but how well it works in practice.

If your WiFi is suddenly cut or you have flown across to the other side of the world without a Wireless Internet service, it is a bit discomforting to know that you should have pressed that button to download all your IMAP messages before losing connectivity. Perhaps Thunderbird cannot do that process automatically.

As said, you may as well work totally with Web Mail via your browser. I guess in all these Cloud Computing, it is all predicated on having connectivity. If that is lost, you may as well be tapping on a piece of slat. It is just a modern version of the good old dumb terminals with the same kind of problems that technology bring.

In the end, I opted to switch back to the trusted POP3. The IMAP was supposed to be more efficient but from my experiments, it seems a lot more wasteful; when I clicked on different folder, the client contacted the server for information.

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