So, cloud and making it personal – What does this actually mean?
Cloud Computing Personal clouds are a bit of a quandary and I believe are a bit misconstrued. You will see many companies advertising data storage, backup and accessibility products that offer you, the consumer, a personal cloud.
Free storage and backup of data on the cloud that’s accessible anywhere to home personal cloud based solutions are available form pretty much any large vendor today. With the massive amount of data that we all use (email, word processing, pictures, movies), we have to store them somewhere.
Whether this is on a personal device such as our smartphones to more complex solutions like a home network or publicly hosted systems. But are these personal clouds or clever marketing from the spin doctors capitalising of the word “CLOUD” which are more often than not offered as a free service.
In my book, if something is free it has little or no value so if something has no value then why would you put something you value onto it? Good question! Is it a misconception that everything is secure in the digital age or rather a misunderstanding?
Why on earth would anyone, let alone someone in the public eye, place very personal pictures/information about themselves on a system/service that can be potentially viewed by millions if the incorrect security has been applied just because you have clicked a check box on a 30 page disclaimer that nobody ever reads?
So, in my mind there are two issues.
- The basic lack of understanding of technology for a personal cloud service with the misconception of "everything is covered and it will never happen to me!" – I thought it was secure!
2. Common sense in regards to deciding to place pictures and movies of yourself on a free public service that if it was breached would be very damaging?
Maybe I am being overly cynical but this is the case with mainstream cloud technology understanding. We have a price war going on at the moment for the commodity cloud market share with Amazon, Google and Microsoft (and others) competing against each other with continual price reductions to entice market share of cloud users. Let’s face it, nobody can reduce the cost of sales continually and make a profit without compensating for losses somewhere else.
Now, I’m not saying that the previous companies mentioned have done this, what I am saying is that it’s an old sales tactic to have loss leaders in a sale to gain market share to sell them something else. All three of these companies sell other services and products - make sense?
We should place a personal cloud in the correct context, its personal! Now let’s take Facebook as a good example. You could say that this is indeed a personal cloud as there will be information on a cloud based system that is totally personal to you, pictures of friends, events and information that you wish to share amongst the circles you mix with.
You trust Facebook right? Once we have placed information about ourselves onto any cloud based system it is available online, which is the whole point of cloud technology – to share collaboratively. Isn’t it ironic that since the Apple security breach a week or two back both Amazon and Google have announced that they are stepping up their security policies. Why do we wait for an issue to happen before we start working on preventative measures?
With the continual advancement of technology and our perceptions of what it can do for us, there are bound to be a misalignment of expectations to reality. I would like to use the analogy of a Hybrid Cloud model. What is Hybrid I hear you ask? Good question and if you asked 5 people you would get different answers and this is exactly what the industry is facing today and probably for the next 18+ months.
The Types of Cloud have been evolving to suit business needs and this has never been more apparent with the emergence of the term Hybrid Cloud computing. We know of Private and Public clouds, but Hybrid? Hybrid is a term (within Clouds) that has been defined as a mixture of private, public technology based at your location(s). Mixtures of these are common already if you own a company and have technology based at your office.
Maybe you backup your data to another location? Maybe you have applications delivered to over the internet (often named SaaS - software as a service), or maybe have some applications and data used only at your main office with a mixture of the other fore mentioned services. Surely this is Hybrid too? Confusion is rife with Cloud technology in general and as a technologist I take this for granted sometimes and I love to get different perspectives on the subject from others outside the industry as a sort of sanity check.
I can definitely say that after traveling all around the world for my job, for pleasure and sometimes just for the hell of it, there is a major misalignment of the basic understanding of Cloud technologies by the general population and it's getting wider! As we evolve technically so does automation and consolidation within the cloud industry, these together with our understanding of how these systems provide services to us.
History has a habit of repeating itself and I believe that it will again in regards to Cloud technology. We are heading for a complete misunderstanding of what technology actually does for us. It cannot think or make the correct personal decisions for common sense.
In regards to understanding the options available, technology can analyse and predict outcomes based on previous history (Big Data analysis) but even if it could today, what would a super computer like the IBM Watson system tell you when you wish to store naked photos of yourself on a storage system that you really have no knowledge of where and to what security levels are in place? Maybe the answer would be “are you crazy to store those pictures online?" Or just not allow you to?
As technology becomes more advanced, so do the challenges of understanding it and assumptions get made. Do we need to understand the modern technology that surrounds us today or have blind faith in the providers that supply it? At the end of the day it is your choice in how you utilise cloud technologies and to what extent but should you be more educated on the risks and not just the benefits.
There is there a general lack of understanding in the commodity services that are provided for free or close to it and there could be a more fundamental issue of where we have all have become too lazy to think for ourselves and too reliant/addicted on technology. The convenience cloud emerges!