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Bottlenecks of the Cloud

As telecommuting gains in popularity -- and most homes on a line have at least two workers -- you can see how things slow down. Pile on the problem of "bit commuting" and they slow down a lot.

Then add in the fact that most telecommuters these days are multi-tasking. They may be doing a teleconference in one window, a shared spreadsheet in a second window, and maybe checking out TheStreet.com in a third, looking to see what Dana is saying.

What looked like an abundance of bandwidth a decade ago is turning into a shortage. It's seen in the form of a degradation of service to remote workers. This means their productivity is going down.

There are lots of opportunities here. There are opportunities for software companies to improve security for remote workers. There are opportunities for network equipment companies to design things more efficiently.

But there are also costs. The cost of running a truck out to a neighborhood goes up every year -- never mind the cost of equipment and the cost of re-designing cable networks so people get the bandwidth they're supposedly paying for.

When you let people work remotely, you pay all these costs -- for the VPNs, for the bits commuting to your cloud, for the bandwidth running here, there and everywhere. When you force workers into the office, they pick up the tab for those three extra hours -- getting dressed, getting in, getting home -- and we all pay for the resultant road traffic and pollution.

The point is that there are huge opportunities, and some costs, in making telecommuting work better for the worker and for the employer. Yahoo! is just calling a time-out on the future while it figures out how to take advantage of it.

At the time of publication, the author was long YHOO.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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