I have been playing around with the Live Mesh Community Techology Preview, and have been doing what I think is some pretty cool stuff with it (as a consumer), so I thought I'd post something about it.
First off, and let's get this out of the way up front, this is NOT "another Ray Ozzie Notes/Groove". What's available today looks and feels like Groove (or FolderShare), but that's only because this is the first implementation of something written on top of the Mesh Operating Environment (MOE). Today it gives you a way to synchronize files between machines and a "virtual desktop in the cloud", but this is just the start. There will be a developer SDK available down the road that will open up this distributed environment to what I think could be a very interesting new class of applications (all SOA course!).
It is not my intention to go into detail about what it is, see the link below to Paul's write-ups for that. It is my intention to share my experiences, good and not-so-good, and explain how I am using it.
My configuration is:
- My MediaCenter PC (at home) is a Live Mesh "device"
- My notebook (also known as "my office" :)) is another Live Mesh device
- I have created some folders on my virtual Live Mesh desktop-in-the-cloud that are synched with my devices
Project documents and artifacts
I do all of my development work inside virtual machines. Plus, I'm very mobile, and am often working in a disconnected state. How I use Live Mesh for this is:
- from inside my virtual machine, I map a drive to a folder on my host
- I have Live Mesh running in the host
- When I drag project documents from inside the VM into the shared folder, they appear on the host
- Live Mesh detects the new documents, and synchronizes them to the cloud
- Live Mesh running on my MediaCenter PC detects the new files in the cloud and brings them down.
Presto... everything's in synch! Pretty cool that I can do something inside my VM and it just shows up at home on my MediaCenter (complete with an RSS news feed for the folder saying who added/deleted what).
Basically the same as above, except when I plug my camera into my notebook I drag the photos in a folder that's synched with my Live Mesh desktop. From there, they replicate down to my MediaCenter PC. I have my MediaCenter machine configure to automatically do backups to an external drive. Here Live Mesh gives me instant distributed backups, without having to think about it.
My not-so-great experiences
My not-so-great experiences were my own fault, nothing wrong with Live Mesh.
- I didn't understand the concept of a "device". It is a combination of machine+login. I have 2 logins on my MediaCenter, a low-privilege one for everyone in the family, and my admin login. I had set Live Mesh up, under both those logins, to synchronize the same folder to my virtual desktop folder. Perhaps it could be a bit smarter and detect that scenario, but it didn't, and the net effect was that I started getting duplicate file conflicts as the same files were being uploaded from different devices (even though from the same physical location) to the same virtual location. It turned into a real "Live Mess" :) Solution was to set the MediaCenter machine to login automatically on boot, so Live Mesh would always be running, and remove the admin "device" from my mesh.
- this one's kind of funny, and shows what can happen when you forget what happens when you drag things. I was in Jordan, and had spent a weekend taking a bazillion pictures with my 10 megapixel camera. I pulled the pictures off, and it took all of a second to drag them to my synchronized photo folder. The upload to my mesh completed 5 days later :)
Live Mesh is really cool, and useful technology. My biggest gripe right now, and a constraint on my usage, is the 5 gig limit. As was said on CNET's Buzz Out Loud podcast, and I love this quote, "we're going to need a bigger cloud".
I would encourage everyone to get the CTP, or get on the list, and start using it for real.
Last I saw there was a waiting list to get in to the tech preview. That may or may not still be the case when you read this.
If you search around, you'll find lots of info about Live Mesh, as a lot of people are (rightfully so) pretty excited about this. Some good starting points would be:
Technorati Tags: LiveMesh