Thursday, March 15, 2007

Controlling your data


Yesterday, one of the the Spanning Sync service had a configuration issue.  This caused a few errors during synchronization for users.  This makes me think that there is a problem with this solution for synchronizing your data.


Here is a diagram of how I think that Spanning Sync works:


Spanning Sync Diagram





This is ideal for Spanning Sync, as it allow them to do several things:


  • Abstract any changed of the Google Calendar API from the end user's computer.  Only Spanning Sync's servers need to be modified with the changes.

  • Help with customer support.  If a Spanning Sync customer has a problem, the customer/technical support person has all of the server logs available.

  • This makes business sense.  Spanning Sync is a subscription service, so they are essentially guaranteed recurring revenue.


For consumers, I see some downsides to this scheme:


  • Another point of potential failure.  As yesterdays failure showed, these failures can cause you to not be able to sync to Google, even though Google's servers are accessible.

  • limited support.  With Google's Premier Edition of Google Apps, Google is offereing 24/7 support.  With another company involved, I am sure that support will not be a timely

  • Privacy.  Since your calendar data is being sent through their servers, there is a privacy concern.  For example, their current privacy policy seems pretty reasonable.  The problem that I have with it is that it states that they can change it at any time, and it doesn't state whether they will send notifications of the changes.  While Google's states that notification will be sent for significant changes.


The calendar synchronization product that I would love to see would talk directly with Google's servers, through the Google Calendar APIs.  Maybe gSync will fit the bill.