Category Archives: Life in the Cloud

The cloud saves the day and other non-myths

It’s no surprise that we frequently write about the cloud on our blog. We think the cloud is bigger than sliced bread. And during the holiday season, it’s certainly much, much bigger than sliced fruit cake. But whatever you think of the cloud, it is a lot bigger than just one thing.

Sure, the cloud can save you lots of money. It can make data protection a lot more convenient. And it can save your bacon if your company’s computers are destroyed in a fire or flood. But again, the cloud is more than just one thing. Because of that, there are lots of myths surrounding it.

One of the key findings in Gartner’s recent The Top 10 Cloud Myths report is that “Cloud computing is uniquely susceptible to the perils of myths due to the nature, confusion and hype surrounding it.”

Consider the 10 myths highlighted in the Gartner report:

  • Myth 1: Cloud Is Always About Money
  • Myth 2: You Have to Be Cloud to Be Good
  • Myth 3: Cloud Should Be Used for Everything
  • Myth 4: “The CEO Said So” Is a Cloud Strategy
  • Myth 5: We Need One Cloud Strategy or Vendor
  • Myth 6: Cloud Is Less Secure Than On-Premises Capabilities
  • Myth 7: Cloud Is Not for Mission-Critical Use
  • Myth 8: Cloud = Data Center
  • Myth 9: Migrating to the Cloud Means You Automatically Get All Cloud Characteristics
  • Myth 10: Virtualization = Private Cloud

Like anything else of value, the cloud is what you make of it. For example, you’ve no doubt heard someone say that the cloud is great for backing up data.

Yes, the cloud is great for backing up. But backup is only part of the value. When you understand the many things the cloud can do for your organization, therein lies the greater value. In many respects, the overall value—the sum of the cloud parts—is much greater. For example, it’s tough to measure the value of the peace of mind that results from knowing that your data is backed up AND recoverable. All it takes is for one employee’s laptop with critical data on it to be lost or stolen to really appreciate the value of the cloud. Lost data that’s recoverable—that’s priceless.

Based on the amount of data that people lose, recovery is an ongoing necessity—and a crucial benefit of the cloud.

Consider that 70 percent of people who carry around a laptop, smartphone, or tablet have lost a storage device. In fact, the average person now loses 1.24 data-holding items each year and less than half of those items are ever recovered. The average cost of a lost item is about $200, but it’s not the cost of the item itself that has the greatest impact. It’s the data on the item. In a 2012 independent survey of 3,500 people in the U.S. and Europe, 57 percent of those who lost a device said that they were more upset about losing the data on the device than the device itself. After all, the device is usually replaceable; however, the data is not—unless it has been backed up and is recoverable.

So when the data from that laptop that was left behind in the taxi that was never seen again is quickly recovered just in time for the CEO’s presentation, which motivates the sales force to such an extent that they increase sales by 200 percent during the next quarter, which catches the interest of a VC firm, which eventually takes the company public, which makes a lot of employees really wealthy, which calls for a celebration in which very excited employees light off fireworks in the break room, which causes the fire sprinklers to go off in the building, which causes major damage to a whole bunch of computers, which causes everyone to give a sigh of relief because they know their data is backed up to the cloud, well, it’s easy to see how the cloud can continue to be the source of yet another myth.

How we love to squeeze the cloud for all it’s worth

The holiday season is yet another opportunity to consider how much influence cloud computing has in our lives. For example, have you:

•  Sent holiday greetings and family photos using your Facebook or Gmail account?

•  Purchased any gifts from amazon.com or other online stores?

•  Downloaded and watched a favorite holiday movie or TV show from Netflix?

•  Downloaded a new or favorite holiday song from iTunes on your handheld device?

If you have, then you have benefited from the cloud.

Although all of us are taking advantage of the cloud, do we ever consider how different life would be without it? For example, what happens when the weather turns bad? Are we prepared for a bad day of cloud computing?

Will your holiday greetings and sharing of family photos be delayed? Will your online order arrive late? Will you be watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” after the holidays? Will you be tapping your fingers wondering when you’ll get to hear “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”?

Come again?

Believe it or not, lots of people (to be exact, 51 percent of 1,000 people surveyed) think that bad weather affects cloud computing. And of those 1,000 people surveyed, 95 percent don’t think that they use the cloud. These are the same people who:

•  Bank online

•  Shop online

•  Use social networking such as Facebook and Twitter

•  Store photos online

•  Store music online

•  Play online games

Granted, the Wakefield Research survey was conducted more than two years ago; however, even today many who regularly use the cloud aren’t always aware that they are in fact enjoying many everyday conveniences because of the cloud.

Surprisingly, some university students aren’t sure what the cloud is. Surprising because it is students who have embraced the benefits of the cloud perhaps more enthusiastically than any other single group. Yet when a senior executive veteran of the IT industry asked (via a Skype call!) a group of university students enrolled in a digital journalism class if they had ever used the public cloud, no hands went up. Eventually, one student tentatively offered up “Google Docs?”

Those of us who use the cloud and can also define what the cloud is and the countless benefits it provides—such as backing up our data and safeguarding it should  it ever need to be restored—need to do a better job of educating the masses that the cloud is an important part of life. All of us use the cloud and benefit from it greatly every day.

Some will continue to define the cloud as a “fluffy white thing.” Others will define it as a place to store, access, and share data using their Internet-connected device. But all will continue to enjoy life made easier and more enjoyable because of the cloud—even if Buffalo gets another five feet of snow.

So, if you haven’t already done so, now might be the perfect time to download “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole.

Happy holidays.

 

Droplets vs. files: Comparing what specific clouds can store

Just as various cloud formations are comprised of different densities of water, various cloud storage servers are filled with several types of files. Some are large and require lots of storage space, while others are small and can be packed in tightly. You can protect all of your company’s important data with Mozy’s enterprise cloud backup solution.  Sign up for our 30-day free trial.

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Elvis would be all shook up with today’s smartphone


Remember those photos of a young (and now a very wealthy) Elvis Presley with a phone in hand sitting in his Cadillac? The phone was a standard-size home phone attached to what must have been a huge base. Everyone thought that was too cool to be real. A phone in a car? Get real!

The cost of a car phone was out of reach for nearly everyone in those days; nevertheless, we all dreamed of enjoying that same convenience—a phone outside the home.

Those Elvis images were shot 50 or so years ago. How life—and the phone—have changed! For most of us, everyday life and a “phone away from home” have become inseparable. Even so, it’s certainly not accurate to say that everyone in the world owns a cell phone today, though the number of cell phone subscriptions makes it seem so.

There are 7 billion people on earth and there are 6.8 billion cell phone subscriptions. But that does not mean that 6.8 people have a cell phone subscription; many people have multiple subscriptions. However, today there are far more subscription holders of cell phones than there ever were people with landlines. In fact, 40 percent of U.S. households rely solely on cell phones. In the UK, more than half of Britons rarely or never use their home phone; in fact, many don’t even remember their number.

And if you think small salaries and third-world economies are barriers to having a mobile phone, you’d be wrong. Even in developing countries there is an average of 90.2 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants (compared to 10.6 fixed telephone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants), according to the International Telecommunication Union.

What all of this means is that cell phone subscriptions will continue to increase, in large part because a cell phone can be used for more than just talking and doesn’t require the costly copper wiring network of a fixed phone. In the United States, 86 percent of cell phone owners use their phone for texting, 82 percent to access the Internet, 75 percent for email, and 63 percent for social networking, according to The Nielsen Company.

What’s clear is that today’s phone is a tool for doing things that Elvis with his car phone would never have thought possible. Consider the following:

•  Alarm system without monthly fees: Increase the safety of your home with security, video monitoring, and automation technology accessed by your smartphone, all with no monthly fees.

•  Keyless locking system: Did the plumber arrive after you had to leave for work? Unlock your home door’s deadbolt without a key or code. Guests can have access for a few hours to days at a time.

•  Programmable air vent:  Save money by programming your home’s heating and air condition vents to open and close at optimum times.

•  More than a thermostat: Why get out of bed on a cold winter night? This thermostat can be controlled from anywhere, and it can “sense” when you’ve gone and then automatically adjust the settings.

•  Efficient lawn sprinklers: When a rainstorm hits but you’re at work or on vacation, put your lawn sprinkler system on a 24 hour snooze. And you can quickly adjust the watering times for each zone.

•  Send videos (and music) to your TV: Plug this device into an HDTV and then send your favorite show to your TV. Out on a date and the babysitter needs a new show for your kids? Find it and send it from the restaurant.

We love our smartphones because they let us do things much more conveniently. If Elvis were with us today he might be crooning, “Take my hand, take my whole life too, but I can’t help using my cell phone to call you…and adjust the thermostat!”

Are you making the most of your smartphone?

Are you using the Mozy mobile app? If not, you’re missing out on an easy way to securely view and download files directly to your smartphone or other mobile device. It’s fingertip access to a more convenient way of doing things. We call it mobile app-titude. Elvis would call it a phone with a V8.

Up In Cloud Cuckoo Land

Recently, I was listening to a story on the radio about the London real estate market and how prices are now 40 to 50 percent above the city’s 2007 highs. The real estate agency executive being interviewed was asked about efforts by some to put restrictions in place that are designed to prevent wealthy foreigners from buying too much of the prime central London real estate. Apparently, some 45 percent of the pricey London homes are being purchased by non-Brits. The realtor’s response was that people who think that restrictions are good are “up in cloud cuckoo land” because the foreign buyers are living in London and contributing to the local economy.

Double decker bus in fron of Big Ben

I just love that expression, “up in cloud cuckoo land.” I’d never heard it before, but after talking with a co-worker who lives in London, he assured me that it’s a legit quip by the Brits. “Up in cloud cuckoo land” got me thinking about other “cloud” expressions.

The following are some of my favorites.

“The clouds ye so much dread.” Hmm, I think I’ll talk to Mozy Marketing about this one. This could be the beginning of a clever ad campaign about why you want to stay away from our competitors.

How about these: “Dropping from the clouds,” “Thy cloud drops fatness,” and “O, clouds, unfold!” I’m pretty sure that some of the competition is guilty of those cloud faux pas. As for Mozy, our data centers have never been breached. No dropping data—or fatness—from our cloud. And rest assured that our cloud never unfolds.

“Cloud of unknowing.” You know Mozy; we’re the most trusted name in cloud data protection. That’s definitely worth knowing when looking for a cloud service provider.

“Get off of my cloud!” I remember watching Jagger strut around the Englewood Forum back in ’74 shouting, “Hey! You! Get off of my cloud!” So many years later, I can picture him encouraging everyone to join him on the Mozy cloud. Even rock stars know where their data is safe. Hey, Mick; I, too, am sick and tired, fed up with all of those other clouds. “Hey! You! Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you! Get on the Mozy cloud!”

“Every cloud has a silver lining.” Well not ours. The Mozy cloud is lined with the triple-protection of Tritanium. Yeah, that’s just our Marketing team having fun. Tritanium is a fictional compound, but it’s non-fictional strength. The Mozy Tritanium® Cloud is military-grade security, world-class data centers, and has the backing of storage leader EMC.

“His clouds removed.” I don’t even want to go there. You competition, keep your dang clouds on! Now that’s embarrassing.

After this light conversation about clouds, let’s drift back down to earth, shall we? Mozy by EMC (NYSE: EMC) is your cloud provider. There are a number of reasons why you’ve chosen Mozy to back up and protect your data. Maybe it’s because Mozy seamlessly protects your endpoints and remote offices. Maybe it’s because Mozy helps boost workforce productivity with real-time file sync and mobile access. Or maybe it’s our award-winning customer support. And unlike London real estate costs, Mozy offers data protection at seriously low prices. Whatever the reason you use Mozy, the cost of backing up with Mozy makes good sense and provides peace of mind. There is nothing more important to us than ensuring that your data is protected and accessible. Any other approach is just, well, up in cloud cuckoo land.

In the immortal words of writer A.A. Milne, “How sweet to be a cloud.” Yeah, the Mozy backup cloud.

Eight days a week—or whatever it takes

All cloud backup providers are not equal. Of course, you already know that; that’s why you depend on Mozy seven days a week. And if there were eight days a week, then we would back up and protect your data on the eighth day as well. And speaking of eight, in a recent BusinessNewsDaily article, Mozy’s Gytis Barzdukas, senior director of Product Management, identifies eight key elements a business should expect from a cloud storage provider:
• Financial stability
• Proven infrastructure
• Established customer base
• Geographically distributed data centers
• Security
• Robust encryption
• Third-party validation and accreditation
• Longevity and experience

Each element is important and should be expected by the customer. Of course, a few of these elements lose their attraction if the other elements aren’t part of the picture, so it’s important to understand what you need and why you need it. “Online data storage is a broad term that can mean lots of different things to lots of different people, so it’s really important for businesses to properly understand what’s right for their needs and what’s being offered by different providers,” Barzdukas says in the article.

Let’s take a few minutes to discuss why Mozy cloud backup protection is complete. You might already be familiar with this, but it’s still a nice refresher course and a reminder that Mozy has your back when it comes to protecting your data.

Financial stability: Mozy is profitable and is backed by EMC (EMC), the leader in storage. We’re not going anywhere, except to the future. Enough said.

Proven infrastructure: Mozy easily scales complete data protection from a single person to tens of thousands of devices in the enterprise with easy deployment options from Mozy’s feature-rich Admin Console, which lets admins perform their duties in ways that work best for them.

Established customer base:
Sure, we can say that we protect a large customer base (6 million individuals), but we also protect 100,000 businesses and store more than 90 petabytes of information. (When you have a few minutes, read what our customers say about us on our Testimonials page.)

Geographically distributed data centers: Mozy servers are located in world-class data centers across the globe. And because there are regional jurisdictional requirements for data location, our data centers are situated where they need to be.

Security: We don’t take chances with the data that’s entrusted to us. The security of your data is our highest priority. Mozy security policies protect your information from unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, and destruction. Our data centers have never been breached.

Robust encryption: All data handled by Mozy is encrypted with military-grade encryption prior to transfer, during transit via an SSL connection, and it remains encrypted while at rest in our data centers. Users can choose a managed encryption key, or personal or corporate encryption keys for added security.

Third-party validation: Mozy is SOC 1 SSAE 16 Type 2 audited and ISO 27001 certified. These independent verifications certify that Mozy’s processes and procedures meet or exceed the strictest control objectives in the industry.

Longevity and experience: Mozy is an established cloud provider; we’ve been around since 2005. During that time we have gone through successful certification and auditing processes and have gained loads of experience in deploying and managing cloud infrastructure and providing award-winning customer support.

Maybe it goes without saying (but we like to say it anyway) that Mozy online backup is comprised of all of those elements. They’re eight more reasons why Mozy is the most trusted name in cloud data protection and why Mozy cloud backup means complete data protection. And when we say complete, we mean that your information is private, secure, and accessible. It’s there when you need it, whenever you need it, whether for the home, SMB, or enterprise. Seven days a week, eight days a week—whatever it takes—we’re here for you, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Keeping Things Cool

Regardless of an organization’s headcount or revenue, there is no denying that cloud backup is required by today’s businesses. It’s convenient (well, it should be). It’s cost-effective (well, it should be). And it’s scalable (well, it should be). If you want to protect your data, then you need to back up your data. What may not be as obvious is the cloud backup service that’s best for your particular business.

No one needs to tell you that there are many cloud backup companies out there. It may sound accurate to state that you have many options to choose from. But in reality, your options are not a numerous as a Google search for cloud backup services may imply. What you’re really after is the cloud backup service that’s best for your organization. When you are tasked with finding the best cloud backup service that’s best for your organization, there are far fewer options to choose from.

No business that creates cloud backup software is perfect in and of itself. We know that, you know that. When it comes down to it, it’s really the manner in which the business backs up what it sells. You can have the best cloud backup service out there, but without the best support for that service, the service may not meet all of your expectations.

Have you ever had a problem with something you purchased that you needed help with to get the product to perform to your specifications and to meet your requirements? Just about any product can perform to specs in a testing environment. That’s easy enough to do under controlled conditions. But in the real world, getting the product to perform the way you want it to perform can sometimes present challenges—even with the best of products. The truth is, the lab and real life can sometimes produce different results.

 

Man in front of a fan

 

I remember purchasing a new home air conditioning unit some years ago. The brand on the AC unit is considered by many to be the best on the market. The company that installed the unit has a service reputation that is second to none. But guess what? The unit malfunctioned two weeks after it was installed. This occurred during one of the hottest summers on record. I had no idea that the inside of a home could hit the mid-90s. One particularly lasting memory of this experience was dumping ice cubes into a 50-gallon aquarium to keep our finned pets alive. No joke, the water was even too warm for our tropical fish. Some kicked the bucket (“Daddy, why is Dori floating upside down?”). Sure, we were disappointed that the AC unit wasn’t pumping out cold air, but we weren’t frustrated. I will tell you why. We called the company, patiently described the problem (“we’re hot as hell”), and kindly explained that we expected the problem to be fixed quickly. We paid good money for a product and service from the best in the business.

A service tech was at our home before we could pour another lemonade. The problem required a bit of troubleshooting, but the unit was repaired that day. Today, I can’t recall the specifics of the problem (it had something to do with our breaker box), but what I still remember very clearly is this: the service tech was friendly, knowledgeable, professional, and spoke to us as if we were important to their business and reputation. More than 20 years later, our AC unit is still keeping us cool.

Here are some important points to consider about Mozy cloud backup:
•    Mozy by EMC is the most trusted name in cloud data protection.
•    Mozy backs up more than 90 petabytes of data worldwide.
•    Should you ever experience an issue or have a question, Mozy provides 24x7x365 U.S.-based support, which gives you access to our pros anytime you need them.
•    Mozy offers additional services, including Professional Services and Managed Services.

It’s no secret that we here at Mozy believe that we offer the very best cloud backup service for your organization—any organization—whether you’re an SMB or a large enterprise. Cloud backup and recovery is what we do, and we believe we do it better than anyone else. Your business is important to us, so we’re here for you. Now that’s pretty cool in this day and age when so many claim to be the best but don’t back it up.

Data Loss Prevention – 4 Crucial Tactics for your Business

If you own or operate a business, you know how important it is to protect your data from internal and external threats. Losing data negatively impacts you, your customers, and your stakeholders. If you want to avoid financial loss and damage to your company’s reputation, make sure you’re managing its data in a safe and secure way.

With that said, here are four crucial data-loss prevention tactics.

Develop a sound plan

Your data protection strategy should include a range of controls and protective measures at different points in the data lifecycle (collection, use, transit, storage, archival, and destruction). Implementing a sound data-loss prevention plan with other protection technologies, like encryption and file destruction, is key to your overall success. You should also look into utilizing a cloud backup system. That way, even if your devices fail, your data will be safe. More than half of all U.S. businesses are using some sort of cloud storage system already!

When deciding on a data-loss prevention vendor, carefully consider and examine each company to ensure that it provides comprehensive solutions, centralized workflow capabilities, integrated policies, and customized reporting. The vendor you choose should also offer you a program that has capabilities across three vectors: data at rest, data in motion, and data at endpoints.

While you might overlook it, it’s also important to involve your stakeholders from the start of plan development. This ensures that all parties understand your business’s requirements and how they’ll affect operations, employee behavior, and company culture.

Linking your data-loss prevention plan with key performance indicators (KPIs) will help you measure your company’s performance and the effectiveness of the strategy you’ve developed. KPIs commonly used include percentage of network coverage, number of incidents concerning data leaks, and percentage of application coverage. To make this process easier, eliminate reporting that doesn’t directly involve your data-loss prevention plan or KPI strategy.

Increase employee effectiveness

When dealing with your employees, the first action you should take is to assign roles and responsibilities to them, providing in-depth training and outlining what you expect. A detailed, accountable, and informed staffing model will help you determine how the different functional areas of your company factor into the plan, design, implementation, and operation of your data-loss prevention solution. You also include your stakeholder’s role in this plan.

Remember though, some employees might consider your vendor of choice intrusive. It’s important to gauge your company’s culture so you can establish protections that are vital to it without being too invasive. The goal here is to complete a smooth implementation of your data-loss prevention strategy. Also remember to identify data owners, establish close relationships with them, and engage with them in effective and ongoing communications.

Streamline and simplify your processes

When establishing a data-loss prevention program, the most important step you can take is identifying your most sensitive data and assigning it a classification. Doing this will aid you in creating the right policies you need to detect and respond to incidents that involve sensitive data leaks. It also helps your company understand what data is most important and how it should handle and protect that data.

Conducting a data protection assessment will allow you to analyze the existing process controls and technology, finding any gaps within the system. Make sure that you include all areas of the company, document the location of the sensitive data, estimate the exposure it faces, and measure the potential magnitude of the loss. Doing so will help you develop processes that are simpler, yet more efficient.

Use technology to detect and prevent data loss

You should aim to deploy modular solutions that offer the maximum coverage with minimal internal disruption. This makes it possible for your company to implement robust data protection solutions as technologies mature and your business needs dictate.

Underestimating the threats to your data can prove to be a major mistake. If you want to protect your company and avoid an unfortunate future situation, keep these four points in mind when developing a sound strategy.

Has your company developed and implemented a data-loss prevention plan? How has it worked so far?

 

* DJ is a freelance writer who focuses on technology and business. He has an entrepreneurial mindset and passion for story telling. You can follow his musings on Twitter @MillerHeWrote.

 

We’ll handle HIPAA and PHI, but you make the APPT at the DR

These days, you’ve probably heard plenty about health insurance and affordable health care. But have you ever heard of PHI?

What, you don’t know what PHI is? You should. After all, you’ve got it. It has to do with your health, but it’s no disease. PHI, or “protected health information,” is the information your healthcare provider keeps on file as a result of your visits to your general practitioner, gynecologist, psychologist, dentist, psychiatrist, counselor, the emergency room, etc. It’s your personal health information. It’s detailed and it’s private.

Did you know that Mozy plays a critical part for those professionals who work in healthcare—be they doctors, nurses, administrators, and other staff members—by providing security measures for the protected health data and files about you that they back up?

You’ve probably heard the term “HIPAA,” and maybe you’ve even wondered if it’s some species of wild animal. HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The act sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data in the United States. Any business that stores health information is required by law to protect it. Businesses must ensure that all of the required physical, network, and process security measures are in place and followed so that your health information remains protected.

As a provider of HIPAA-compliant backup services that safeguard health information, Mozy ensures that health information is protected in a way that complies with HIPAA regulations. Mozy software and services ensure that the appropriate safeguards are in place so that the businesses that back up health information have the tools to keep it confidential and secure. That means encryption keys are required and that data must be encrypted during the backup process. That same data must be encrypted at rest while it’s stored in Mozy’s data centers (only the ones in the United States as required by HIPAA). What that means is that those who are not authorized to access protected health information cannot access it.

Whether or not it’s protected health information or any data that businesses back up, or files that you back up at home, Mozy provides automated cloud backup and disaster recovery protection against hardware failure, theft, virus attack, deletion, and natural disaster.

If you don’t work in healthcare, you might consider some of these details boring. But remember this: your personal healthcare information is yours—and it’s private. And Mozy takes the details to protect your data very seriously so that you can focus on other things.

The intricacies of HIPAA may be complicated, but our commitment to you and your data is simple and based on these principles:

•    Your information is your information, not our information.
•    We never sell your information to anyone, nor do we sell information about you.
•    We never sift through your information in order to create a profile of you or target advertising.
•    You can always get your information back while your account is active. We have no rights to your information if you leave the Mozy service.

So, whether it’s your health information at your doctor’s office or it’s your family photos or tax documents on your home computer, Mozy can protect it.

By the way, when was your last checkup?

The Race to Be the ‘Netflix for eBooks’

A Statista study from earlier this year shows that the subscription model works–at least for movies and television shows: The study showed that Netflix subscriptions are nearly as common among adults aged 18 to 36 as cable television subscriptions. Hulu is another big player in this area, and Amazon has thrown its hat in the ring with its subscription Instant Video service. Among others, Spotify applies the subscription model to music. Indeed, with cloud and mobile technology pushing the popularity of subscription services to an all-time high, it’s no wonder that a new wave of companies is vying to become the “Netflix for e-books.”
Ebooks

In the Running

Scribd, Oyster and eReatah have all jumped into the e-book subscription arena, offering members access to a set number of e-books per month for a fee. But there are big names with big footprints already in the field, including Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library, which offers four times more titles than the relative newbies. (Amazon looks like it is also upping the ante with its recent purchase of Goodreads and the book sharing social network’s 16 million members.)

On the other hand, according to TechCrunch, being a newbie in tech world is sometimes an advantage in its own right. “Goodreads had over 16 million readers at the time of the deal, but the technology itself feels stagnant and dated, especially on mobile, potentially giving Oyster an edge,” the article stated.

The library liability

The biggest issue facing would-be Netflix services for e-books is as old as, well, Ben Franklin: Whereas unlimited access to movies for a monthly subscription was a new concept when Netflix emerged, the same isn’t true for books. The book-lending concept has been around as long as public libraries have been around–since Ben Franklin introduced the concept, around 1730.

Ben FranklinAnd not only do public libraries enable people to borrow books with actual paper pages, many are lending ebooks, as well–for free.

“[I]n addition to competing with e-commerce giant Amazon, whose empire began with bookselling,” wrote TechCrunch, “these startups compete with other so-called ‘Netflix for e-books’ outlets: (gasp!) local libraries.”

Scribd, for one, is not daunted: “Netflix is worth about $18 billion. Spotify is worth about $3 billion,” Trip Adler, Scribd’s co-founder and CEO, told Mashable. “I don’t see why there isn’t a similar opportunity in this space.”

Standing out from the crowd

Will Scribd, Oyster or eReatah become Netflix for e-books? Perhaps not. But does that mean the model will fail? Not necessarily. After all, people buy gym memberships even though running outside is free.

“A health club membership, like an ebook service subscription, is often an aspirational purchase for subscribers,” said the indie book publisher Smashwords in a blog. “As long as the reader wants to increase their reading in the future, they’re likely to maintain their subscription, even if they don’t actually read more.”

Interestingly, ebook subscriptions could find success for the very same reason they may not be the next Netflix: Books aren’t movies. Indeed, if there’s anything a potential industry disrupter might take away from from the ebook service race, it’s that such distinctions matter. Trying to recreate another industry’s disruption in one’s own is only asking for comparisons in which you are likely to come up short.

However, recognizing what the ebook lending companies have in common with Netflix–as well as with music streaming services like Spotify and iTunes Radio–helps create some context for the greater world of media consumption. Across the board, the competition is hottest in cloud-based technology: Consumers don’t need to own their media; they “simply” want access to it anytime and anywhere.

Life in the Cloud Quote

Learn more about the future of cloud services in our infographic, “Life in the Cloud”.

With their place in the digital media industry in mind, if Scribd, Oyster, eReatah or any other contender shoots for its own goals rather than Netflix’s, it might just become the “[insert provider name here] of ebook subscriptions.”

 

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