The Cloud

It isn’t a new idea but due to Broadband and improvements in connection speeds,  it has now become something that “the masses” can take advantage of. There are a few good advantages in using “Cloud Services” One of them is using the web-based applications such as Google Docs ™ and others which means you don’t have to install applications (programs) on your device, you just connect to the application in the cloud and can store all of your Docs in the cloud. This is great for collaborating with friends and colleagues.

A lot of people use the cloud for backing up their data and for storing photos and media and in principle web-based mail is basically a cloud type service, some would argue that it isn’t but that will depend on how you see the cloud!

In a nutshell and very simplified, “The Cloud” is a collection of special computers called servers, they’re special because they are more powerful than a desktop computer (usually) and have huge data storage capacities measured in terabytes (look it up.) If it’s all set up properly each server is at least duplicated and automatically starts up a different server in case of failure and all of this is duplicated on at least one more site and often in a different town. Google and others, have taken this to dizzy heights and have duplications in cities and towns around the globe so the one thing you can be reasonably sure of is that your data is not going to get lost!

So where’s the “is it me” in this? I used to work for an ISP that offered a very much smaller scale facility but it wasn’t called the cloud then and the only people who could take advantage of it were usually businesses that could afford to pay for a leased line or a little later for a fibre optic line back to our data center (horrendously expensive). For those with the money, this meant they could have their own servers installed in our data center or quite often they shared space on our servers. The big selling point was that they would be able to access applications from their premises just by using low-cost “dumb terminals” (low powered computers with no applications installed). All their data and applications were in our data centre! Unfortunately when someone cuts through a fibre cable or damages the leased line at the customer’s end, they can’t connect to the data centre and therefore can’t work! Then if you consider a scenario where the customer and data centre owner have a fall out, all the business data is held by the data center and the customer can’t work so it’s not difficult to see how easy it would be for the customer to be put out of business or held to ransom over the costs he has to pay!

IS it me or is it a perfectly rational thing for a business to hand over all of it’s business financial details and quite often trade secrets etc to another company to look after? Government agencies and even the tax man have to get court orders to get that sort of info! Then you consider the “private” customer, again entrusting all of their personal details, family photos etc etc, just handing it over on a plate to someone they don’t even know!!!!

Yes, I’m paranoid about data and network security; someone has to be 🙂