June 2, 2015
[WARNING – Tongue firmly plated in cheek whilst writing this piece] As anyone with a passing familiarity with world events knows, things in the Middle East are a little dicey. Alliances are shifting, a large percentage of the population is nostalgic for the “go-go” days of the 7th century, and some folks have to check the news to see whose running the country that day. The root causes of this dystopian state of affairs are many and varied, but I recently read an article that can only be seen as adding fuel to this region wide fire via its assertion that the Middle East still awaits the public cloud.
I don’t know about you, but I experienced a moment of clarity upon learning that the birthplace of the world’s three largest religious movements still awaits the ability to store plans for ICBMs on servers other than their own. Suddenly it became apparent that you can talk all you want about your “two state solutions”, but until someone in Gaza can upload the work schedule for next week’s tunnel development project onto multiple servers in Tel Aviv, harmonious relations aren’t going to be on anyone’s agenda.
If you think about this “cloudless” situation, is it any wonder that we, and the Iranians, disagree on what we agreed to last month in Switzerland? If you’re each storing your “frameworks for negotiation” on your own servers naturally there is going to be some disagreement on how soon we are going to let them have their own nuclear devices. This is just the type of thing that the Cloud is designed to address.
Maybe this is why those ISIS guys are resorting to such anti-social behavior. Certainly there are differences in opinion on the whole Caliphate thing, but hasn’t that been the case for a few centuries now? Sometimes it’s the little things that, when allowed to fester long enough, ultimately become the flashpoint that cause some folks to stop working and playing well with others. Some historians believe that Hitler really didn’t want to invade Poland but just couldn’t stand paying the tolls—apparently the Fuhrer didn’t like to carry change–along the road to East Prussia any longer. Maybe it’s not so different in this case. Clerics can disagree on religious issues, but when you can’t store your pictures of the wife and kids from your vacation on the Red Sea on the Cloud, folks are going to get annoyed.
Maybe this lack of cloud access presents the opportunity that has been lacking in the whole Middle East peace movement for about a millennium. First of all, it’s really a secular issue. No matter whom you pray to, the Cloud is really a non-partisan deity so that whole issue is off the table. It also is able to cross national boundaries so every country from Oman to Lebanon can claim an equal piece of ownership.
The geo-politics of the Middle East have baffled us for years but you never know what may happen to help open up constructive dialogue. The Chinese weren’t exactly our best buddies long ago, but, for those of you old enough to remember, the thaw in the relationship came when our national ping-pong team went to Beijing to play theirs. Why not begin the healing process within the cradle of civilization via a 21st century innovation. There are a lot of folks in our business who think the potential of the Cloud is limitless. Maybe it’s time to put that theory to the test.