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The other day I had a problem with my iPhone — a 4S, with 64GB running iOS 8.1 — so here’s my story:

First, some context.  I have 420 apps taking 22.78GB storage and 4,000 songs taking 7.82GB of storage on my phone, and a few miscellaneous items such as photos and calendar data.  I use iTunes on my PC as an intermediary, and iCloud.  I am still waiting in line for an iPhone 6 Plus from my local cable provider.  I am an IT strategy/management consultant, and my focus is currently on cloud computing and its impact on systems.  I am neither a bits-and-bytes technical specialist nor am I a programmer.  I do try to keep my apps up-to-date, however, and I sync and backup my iPhone frequently (sometimes daily).

I also try to solve problems with my systems myself.  Sometimes it gets a tad frustrating …

The other day I started running out of storage.  I had just deleted a lot of the music (I seldom listen to it using the iPhone) and was downloading a couple of new apps (actually Microsoft Office).  All of a sudden the “Other” storage category seemed to jump to more than 22GB (from less than 1GB) and that’s when the problems started.  I did not have enough storage left to sync the device and, needless to say, “Other” is not very informative as a label!

I cleaned things up and got rid of old messages, emails, photos, etc. but this didn’t do much at all.  Next I went to trusty Google to find the solution.  It was comforting to discover lots of other people were having the same problem.  Since when is a potential software bug comforting?  There were a number of answers proposed, many of which were similar to what I was doing on my own.

Next I purchased PhoneClean which was said to be a good solution.  It did some good things and it was able to recover more than 1GB of space, but that wasn’t enough.  And my 22GB of “Other” did not go away.

The next option, based on the Google responses, was to restore my iPhone “to its factory settings.”  This was getting a bit scary, since I did not know if factory settings meant I would have to do many iOS upgrades over again (I did not) and it was not obvious what else I would lose.  My system restore and back-up restore went well, and I seem to be back to normal now with the problem solved.  The “Other” storage went down from 22GB to slightly less than 2GB, and I have 24GB free storage – plenty of room to synch my iPhone to iTunes.  Problem resolved (even though I still don’t know exactly what went wrong and whether I caused it)!

But I had to ask myself:  What would a person who isn’t computer savvy do?  Would those who treat their phone as an appliance be willing to go through this discovery and recovery process?  Would my parents’ generation be able to do anything other than take it back to the store for repairs?  Would they even be able to diagnose the problem?

In deploying cloud computing and the Internet of Things, we risk multiplying this issue many times over and even forgetting what the “whole product” is.  Would I want to do a restore of my car’s computer?  What would happen if my device was BYOD and had company and personal portions – how would I do a recovery then?  Should I even try to repair it myself when some of the software belongs to my company?

And, most importantly, what would I do if an emergency happened while I was busy recovering and I needed to make a phone call?

I believe these are all interesting questions for the “overcast” cloudy world.  This is also an area where improved cloud service management might make a big difference that results in a product differentiator for service providers.

How about building “Device Diagnostics and Repair as a Service” into our BYOD and IoT endpoints?

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