ISP Data Caps & the Shift to Cloud Apps

As a lover of web apps, I frequently rave about the advances they’re making and the benefits they offer over other forms of applications. I constantly look for new ways to “live in the cloud” or at least achieve redundancy by using web apps. Web apps are certainly advancing quickly, but are they beginning to outpace internet provider’s capabilities?

As we shift further and further into the realm of cloud-based computing, what predicament might we find ourselves in with regards to our ISPs and their increasingly popular data caps?

The Price of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is rapidly increasing the stresses put on our ISP’s networks and one thing is for sure, they do not like it. Take Netflix for example; their primary internet provider wanted them to pay extra due to the massive strain Netflix imposed on their network. That tells us two things; people love Netflix streaming and ISPs hate when people really begin to utilize their connections.

Netflix Streaming

Netflix Streaming

I suppose it’s not so much that they hate when people fully utilize their connection but rather they want those users to pay more. ISPs, movie studios and the whole lot have a very close relationship. So, with the decline of traditional TV and the increasing popularity of video on demand via the internet, they want to be sure they can cash in on it — and they’ll accomplish that with data caps.

It really goes beyond entertainment via the internet though and extends into web apps built for productivity, data security, collaboration, communication, etc. As these tools become ever more popular, ISP data caps will limit our access to this exciting new world. It will be the same situation as premium television — “open your wallet or you don’t get none!”

How Can We Avoid The Impending Data Cap Apocalypse?

Well, we really can’t. ISPs will all likely eventually make stringent use of data caps and should you exceed those limits, you’ll be slammed with expensive overage charges or bumped to the next pricing tier. However, there are ways we can stay within our new limitations.

Data Usage Monitoring

Just like we already do with cellular-based data, we’ll need to start keeping an eye on our usage and adjust our consumption accordingly. This isn’t something many of us are used to doing, especially since it’s nowhere near as easy as it is with cell phones or other similar services.

Hopefully our ISPs will provide more tools to make this easier and I suspect as data caps really start pissing people off they’ll be required to provide you with more in-depth usage information and monitoring tools.

More Efficient Web Apps

For as advanced as many of today’s web apps have become, the majority are still unnecessary data hogs. Web programmers and interface designers need to think more about reducing unnecessary data consumption for their users, which also has benefits such as more fluid interfaces, faster response and loading times and more.

The whole “green” initiative has prompted many companies to sport “we’re green” imagery, but what about applications that are developed with the efficiency of consumer data consumption? Perhaps at some point we’ll begin seeing new “badges” and imagery letting consumers know which apps were designed with extreme data efficiency in mind. It’s a long way off (…or is it?) but it’s an intriguing thought.

Your Thoughts?

Have you run into data cap woes? How do you or will you go about monitoring or adjusting your usage due to the new limitations we’re seeing becoming increasingly prevalent? Although I haven’t run into any issues myself, I’m certainly interested in looking into how poor my own data consumption efficiency is and ways I can improve it without sacrificing the many luxuries the web brings us.

Let me know what you think via comment below. Thanks!