Big platforms such as Google (Drive), Apple (iCloud) and latterly Microsoft (SkyDrive) are driving customers towards cloud services. The move to use these resources is almost certainly inevitable, for the consumer. The constraints are largely down to cost and privacy concerns. For the business user replace the word “privacy” with “security”.
I buy into the future. I have almost universal connectivity, at a price. I also have a growing amount of data being stored on my laptop. My data is currently backed up to two external hard drives, one at home and one in the office. The time is fast approaching where the laptop will run out of hard drive space. It is only a year old so I’m not going to replace it just to get a bigger hard drive.
It’s getting close to decision time on a cloud based strategy. All my photos are backed up to the using Google+ instant Upload, free of charge when in range of WiFi. It’s the photos and videos that consume hard drive space.
I am in the process of playing with Windows8 and Chrome, trying out both ecosystems. Windows 8 lets me have separate personal and work logins. A bit of a nuisance having to switch between the two but a good thing as far as the IT department is concerned.
With Windows8 I could move everything onto Skydrive, basically into the cloud. Skydrive maxes out at 100GB of storage. That’s not good enough. Even if I had two Skydrive accounts, one for work and one for personal it is still not enough.
Google Drive allows for far bigger storage space – up to 16TeraBytes if you have the cash. It would do the job if I could afford it.
On a personal level I would risk putting all my data into the cloud. After all I have already made the “buying” decision using the free Instant Upload service for my pics. The question is how much am I willing to spend?
From a business perspective the decision making process is not so easy. The psychological leap of going from a local backup to putting everything in the cloud is huge. For a business there are also more variables – geographic constraints on where the data is stored for one.
There are also operational issues. The bigger the company the more likely that company is to have its own private MPLS network. This overcomes the constraints of connecting sites and users via VPN, the old fashioned way. A strategy of using the cloud of parts of your estate means using resources outside the corporate network which means outside of the control of the company.
This might work but the problem lies when something goes wrong. The notion of the whole company sat there looking at a screen that says “Sorry there is a problem. We are working hard to fix it.” doesn’t do much for the job security of the IT director who in the case of the cloud has no control over the fixing and no means of getting in touch with those who do.
One alternative is the private cloud that sits inside the corporate MPLS estate and looks and feels as if it is just another server (s) on the Wide Area Network. Such a scenario normally allows users to see where there is a problem and usually involves the network provider in the fix – someone to kick if you like. Companies such as Timico specialise in this kind of service with their Data Vault product.
Whatever the solution, on a personal or business level, the decision is not straightforward. For consumers there is probably a price threshold that will trigger mass migration. There will be an element of this for business but in this case the situation is more complex which makes it a very interesting time to be in the game.
Looking into my crystal ball the future is getting cloudy…
PS I really dislike the term cloud. I wish someone would come up with an alternative. There again the alternative would soon get trendy and I’d start not liking it again.