31 January, 2009

Live Mesh is unreal

There's a new product that Microsoft offers. And it's on the web. And it's free. And it is incredibly powerful and amazing. The product is called Live Mesh, and you can access it at http://www.mesh.com. This is not an infomercial. I am telling you about it because, based on my experiences thus far, I am amazed, and honestly a little bit frightened by its capability.

In a nutshell, here is what Live Mesh lets you do:

  1. Create a web-based "network" of any/all of your computers, regardless of where they are located.
  2. Share files between all of these computers, e.g. if you have your iTunes library on your home computer, you could listen to these songs from work, by having the folder of music in this shared "mesh".
  3. Connect remotely to any of your computers, from anywhere.

Did you catch that last one?

You can connect to any of your computers from anywhere, with no special software, smartcards, hardware, security gateways, firewalls, etc. All you do is go to the mesh.com website, and login via your Windows Live credentials (i.e. your Hotmail address), and then you can connect. 

The concept of "I forgot that file at home" need never happen again. No matter where you are, you're always there.

The frightening thing about this is that it sort of subverts any corporate firewalls that exist in quite flagrant and blatant fashion. For instance, to get on the corporate network at Microsoft, I typically need to insert my company smartcard into a card reader, enter 2 layers of special passwords, and go through an authentication process that actually takes over my machine so that my local internet connection cannot be used at the same time as I am working on the corpnet. 

With Live Mesh, this is "bye-bye". Not necessary. I can go to this website, and within 60 seconds, I am connected to the actual desktop of any of my work computers, with full corporate access. Security breach? I am not sure. Of course I am ultimately responsible for the security of my own information, so if there were a breach via my computers, I would need to own the responsibility. The bigger question is whether companies can afford to have this circumventing route available.

Will Live Mesh live unchanged from its current state? Highly unlikely. Otherwise companies might as well throw away all their firewalls and other security checks.

To me, it's amazing because of the power, simplicity, and absolutely obvious demand for such a thing in a world where we want all of our information available all the time from anywhere in the world. But as is the case with anything powerful, we need to be at least a little bit worried.

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