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SOA, Cloud Computing & Live Mesh: A Day in the Life of Ivan Eyepack 2009

SOA and Live Mesh enabled apps move across devices and synchronize their data which is sharable with colleagues and friends

Back in 2001 Steve Ross-Talbot wrote an article entitled A day in the Life of Ivan Eyepack.  This was the story of how in 2001 someone equipped with a Compaq Ipaq would live in a connected world.  The star of that story was very much the device.  Now we have much more powerful devices and more choice - but surprisingly the starring role has moved to the ‘cloud' - services on the internet.

Recently Microsoft announced Live Mesh, filling in a vital missing piece of the puzzle and ushering in a whole range of cloud based services.

In this article I revisit Ivan in 2009.  Everything described in this updated story is possible with technology available now or in a few months.  If someone were so inclined they could start building this today.

Buying a ticket on the Mac
Ivan now lives outside Utrecht in the Netherlands with his wife Olga and daughter Daniella.  He has a business meeting in a couple of days in London and needs to book his travel.  At home in the evening on the family iMac he books his entire trip from NS - the Dutch railway company.

Although Ivan loves to travel he does hate having to manage the details so he loves the itinerary management that NS provides.  The itinerary starts with GPS directions from Ivan's house to Utrecht train station car park, tracks his KLM flight to Heathrow airport, and takes him on to the London Tube to his meeting with 30 minutes to spare. It takes him on a shopping trip to Oxford St and then brings him back home to Utrecht.  The itinerary contains all the details of Ivan's trip but for now all Ivan really needs from the itinerary is to know what time to leave the house and which direction to head in order to make his meeting.

The itinerary
On the day of the meeting Ivan knows from his itinerary that he needs to leave the  house at 05:30.  He chooses not to wake his wife and daughter and while dressing he experiences his only real moment of anxiety of this day - what tie to pick for this shirt.  Ivan looks over at his sleeping wife, better not wake her, "Blue tie!" he whispers to himself and tiptoes downstairs.

Driving to Utrecht
Ivan starts his car and his mesh enabled GPS devices starts up.  It connects to Live Mesh, downloads Ivan's itinerary and calculates the best route to Utrecht train station car park.

In the top right corner of the GPS is a smiley face.  It shows that Ivan should make his meeting... in London.

En route the GPS beeps and the music fades on the radio, "Excuse me, there is a change in itinerary" says the GPS voice.  There has been an accident and part of the road ahead is blocked.  The GPS has recalculated the route but it means that Ivan will need to take the next train. However he will still make the flight.  Ivan notices that the smiley face is still there and follows the new directions.

The GPS advises Ivan of the parking bay that is reserved for him at Utrecht station.  As Ivan drives into the car park his license plate is scanned and read.  His itinerary is updated.

Ticket Collector
On the train Ivan sees the ticket collector coming down the carriage. Now Ivan can be a little disorganized at times and in the past would often forget where he put his ticket.  Now though he knows that his Oyster card is either in his wallet or a maybe the jacket pocket.  The guard waves the scanner around  Ivans jacket, it detects the Oyster card and validates the eticket.  The guard smiles, looks down at the screen on his ‘ticket' machine and tells Ivan "Thankyou Mr Eyepack, your flight is on time but there is a problem on the Picadilly Line in London,  but you will make your meeting on time".

"Thanks" says Ivan.  "Oh can you add this seat to my itinerary someone will be travelling with me from the next station".

"Sure" says the guard and invites Ivan to enter his PIN on the ticket machine. - The new information on the itinerary is published through Ivan's Twitter account.  The text on Ivan's Instant Messenger account is also updated.

Meet Colleague on Route
Ivan's colleague Bill is to accompany him on the trip.  They have agreed to meet on the train today but because of the accident, Ivan is on the later train.  Fortunately Bill subscribes to Ivan's Twitter feed and has received an SMS notification with the train number as well as Ivan's seat notification - updated at Ivan's request by the ticket guard.

Bill gets on the train and quickly finds a seat next to Ivan and they start to plan their meeting.

Ivan opens his company issue Dell running Windows and navigates to his synchronized Live Mesh desktop to open the client files.  The PC connects to the wireless network on the train; there is no charge as this is included in the itinerary.

Automatic Check in at KLM
A few minutes before arriving at Schiphol there is a notification from the toolbar on the PC, Ivan clicks on it and sees that there is a 2 for 1 promotion at Starbucks in Schiphol airport. Starbucks already keeps track of Ivan's Coffee preferences - a double shot grande decaf skinny Latte with chocolate   Ivan accepts the offer and Bill chooses the same as the train enters Schiphol station.

Bill and Ivan are their way up the escalators to Starbucks.  The two coffees are already waiting. Ivan shows some ID and picks up the beverages.

Ivan has been automatically checked into his flight by the itinerary service at NS during his train ride - he has no luggage and he and Bill walk through the departure gates with their oyster cards. Neither of them carries a passport.

On the Flight
During the flight Ivan shuts off his electronic devices but his Itinerary is still alive.  Heathrow is down to one runway because of fog, and arrival is to be delayed by 30 minutes. Even though no device is switched on the change is published from KLM and received by NS.  The itineraries of  both travellers are updated. Ivan's changes are sent to Twitter. Bill has chosen not to synchronize Twitter with his Itinerary instead he uses Facebook and LinkedIn.

Meanwhile in London, John is updated by SMS about the change to Ivan's arrival at Holborn in London.  He will call the client and suggest starting the meeting a little later.

On the Heathrow Express
At Heathrow, Ivan and Bill pass through the Privium channel. Ivan puts his eye to the retina scanner and passes through.  Ivan's preferences include synching his itinerary with Privium so his itinerary is recalculated from this checkpoint. Because of the delayed landing and the problems on the tube Ivan will be 30 minutes late. Because he is offline an SMS message is sent to his mobile phone telling him of his new arrival time.

Ivan and Bill take the Heathrow Express to Paddington.   Ivan uses his 3G broadband dongle to connect to the web on his PC. He has received a text from John to say that the meeting will be 30 minutes late. He checks his itinerary and confirms that he is on the train and changes his desired arrival time at Holborn to 30 minutes later. The summary icon has changed to a smiley - he will make it.

The itinerary also notifies Ivan that the Piccadilly line has delays so he had better take the Bakerloo line from Paddington station.

A few minutes later Ivan gets a video Skype call from his wife. She wishes him well with his meeting, "And you know you can't wear that tie with that shirt", she adds.

At Paddington station Ivan passes through the ticket barrier of the underground using his Dutch Oyster card - his NS ticket included London  Tube travel for the day.

The meeting is a great success and afterwards Ivan decides to spend a few hours in London to do some shopping.

Oxford St
In an Oxford St store Ivan hears a piece of music.  He has heard his Daughter Daniella singing the same tune in the house.  He loads Shazam in on his iPod that samples the tune and sends it to a service to identify the band.  It turns out to be the Jonas Brothers - Ivan has never heard of them.  To verify, Ivan checks Daniellas listening preferences on Last FM - yes definitely the Jonas Brothers as it seems she listened to them at lunch time on her iPod.  ‘Hey shouldn't she be at school' he thinks.  Using an online Semantic Web app - Gnosis from Clearforest -the text on the iPhone's page on the Jonas Brothers has been tagged with actions.  One of the actions is to use geo location data from the iPhone to find a store selling Jonas Brothers memorabilia; its only 5 minutes walk away.

Ivan selects the action and the iPhone directs Ivan to the HMV store in Piccadilly.

After a successful shopping excursion its time to head back to Paddington and start the trip home.

Schiphol -  Touch Kiosk and Upgrade
One thing that has stayed the same since 2001 is Ivan's appreciation for the finer things in life.  After arriving at Schiphol airport he walks up to a kiosk, touches in with his Oyster card and sees his itinerary on the screen. He decides to change his train ticket to first class at the kiosk. Once on the train he orders a Bombay Saphire and Tonic again using his Dutch Oyster card.  He takes out his iPhone, reviews the notes from his meeting on his synchronized desktop from Microsoft Live Mesh.

An  email message comes up from the iPhone offering a special deal on tickets for the upcoming Avril Lavigne  concert in Amsterdam. A few months ago he had bought the latest Avril Lavigne CD for his daughter, Daniella from Amazon and  when he did so he asked to be notified about related items and events from Amazon's partners like NS.

The Avril Lavigne offer is  an entire itinerary with rail tickets and GPS directions as well as the actual concert tickets; the rail portion is free to additional people on the itinerary.  Ivan knows just how much Daniella loves Avril Lavigne and buys the itinerary for his wife and daughter.

Feeling tired and mellow with his G&T Ivan puts on his headphones to listen to some music on Spotify.  To Ivan the problem with having access to all the music ever recorded is knowing what to listen to.  Fortunately one of Ivan's facebook buddies, Hans,  has very similar tastes in music.  Hans' Last FM feed shows that he has discovered some new jazz - a remake of a Kind Of Blue.  ‘Worth a try' thinks Ivan, clicks on the album on Spotify and sips his gin and tonic.  ‘Pretty good but not as good as the original' he thinks, ‘thanks Hans'.  Ivan has never met Hans and never will.

The fog is bad on the road and Ivan's itinerary is updated to allow for extra driving time  back home.  Olga receives a notification at the bottom of the Windows Media Center TV screen - a twitter feed saying that Ivan will be arriving about 20:00.  She flips open her Laptop and decides to order groceries from the station supermarket.  With a click she adds the shopping to Ivan's itinerary.  Surely after a day out in London he can help out around the house a little, he is bound to be having a Gin and Tonic by now anyway.

On the train the iPhone Spotify player pauses and a voice tells Ivan through his headphones - "Excuse me, the train will arrive in 10 minutes.  Your dry cleaning is ready and you have groceries to pick up at Utrecht. Please remember to take all your belongings with you".

At the station Ivan picks up the groceries and dry cleaning and heads to the car park.

Again when the GPS device starts up - it synchronizes with the itinerary and calculates the optimal route back home.  Using the weather and traffic data it allows extra time for the fog.  He turns on his 3G Internet car radio.  The music starts from the point it stopped in the train.

Ivan arrives on time and his wife greets him.

"Did you have a good trip?"

"Yes darling".

"You did remember the groceries didn't you?"

Well, some things will always be the same.

One of the key enablers for this story is technology like Live Mesh. Mesh enabled apps move across devices and synchronize their data which is  sharable with colleagues and friends.  The rest can be done with existing technologies and a robust Service Oriented Architecture.

These consumer oriented SOAs blur the boundaries of applications.  Users choose how to integrate the services together based on their personal preferences.

More Stories By David Webster

Dave has been in the IT industry for 30 years. He worked for 15 years for Microsoft, 11 of which were in Microsoft Consulting Services in Boston Mass. He has presented on numerous occasion in the US, Europe the Middle East and South Africa at events like TechEd and TechDays.

He was overall content owner for TechEd EMEA 2007 and TechEd South East Asia 2008.

He now works for Cognizant as a Principal Architect in the UK.