Category Archives: Life in the Cloud

The Automation of Life

The other day I took my niece and nephew to a local McDonald’s for lunch. As we walked in we were greeted by a large touch screen that had an “Order Here” sign above it. Customers can order how they want their food right from the screen. But being a person who would rather talk to a human, I walked up to the counter to place my order. Whether this move to automating the ordering process is in response to demands for a minimum pay increase or if the new generation is more comfortable touching a screen than talking to a human is still up for debate. But it got me thinking about what other processes or jobs are being automated in our new world of touch screens, Internet of Things, and mobile devices.

Dangerous jobs
With the advancements of technology, humans are being removed from situations where they could be hurt or even killed. Sophisticated remote devices are used to check for bombs and life-threatening chemicals. Drones patrol the skies over battle zones and can even attack targets that have been identified by someone in a remote location.

Not long ago the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was badly crippled by an earthquake and then a tsunami. The lingering radioactive fallout as well as the unstable structure of the plant made it nearly impossible for someone to investigate the area without dying. Scientists developed an autonomous drone to fly into the area and investigate. The drone self-guides with the use of lasers to avoid obstacles and can even replace its own batteries and work where GPS doesn’t.

Cashiers
Not only are we seeing the first steps to replacing minimum wage labor at fast food restaurants, the same is happening at grocery stores. One person can now supervise up to 10 registers where customers scan their food and other goods before paying. No longer do we need someone to provide change or scan our card card thanks to the automated payment.

Banks
A few years ago you were out of luck on getting cash if you weren’t fortunate enough to get to the bank during “bank hours.” That was until the Automated Teller Machine, otherwise known as the ATM, became a feature of banking. Along with online banking, you can now deposit and withdraw funds at all hours of the night as well as weekends and holidays without needing a human to handle the transaction.

Warehouses 
Warehouses that fulfill hundreds if not thousands of order per day are improving efficiency by automating the packing and shipping of goods. They have also automated the process of transporting goods from one point to another, saving the company money and improving efficiencies. If Amazon is correct, UPS and FedEx delivery drivers will one day be replaced by drones, which will leave our orders on our doorsteps.

Data protection
So much information has become digitalized! Our music is now files rather than tracks on CDs (or if you’re older, grooves on vinyl). Pictures are now viewed on a computer or mobile device rather than being printed. In the past, in order to protect your photos, you would store them away from moisture and heat. Now we worry about hard drive crashes. Backing up these new digital versions is necessary, especially for preserving family pictures, which can’t be replaced if they are lost or otherwise damaged. Rather than burning copies to DVDs or backing up to hard drives and then safeguarding those copies at mom’s house, we now rely on cloud backup. With a few clicks of a button you can back up your music, photos, and other precious data to an offsite location to ensure that they’re protected in case of an emergency. And to further simplify the process, you can schedule backups to run when your computer is idol.

We might not always like where automation is taking us, but there is no escaping the fact that automation is becoming more and more a part of everyday life.

Now where is my e-reader? I want to check if that bestseller has been automatically downloaded.

A Look at the Future: Predicting Techological Progress Over the Next Century

In 1989, the movie “Back to the Future II” showed main character Marty McFly traveling to the then far-flung future date of October 21, 2015. While some of the predictions suggested by the movie actually came to be—such as computer headsets, video conferencing, hands-free gaming, and self-tying shoes—flying cars are noticeably missing from modern-day life.

There is a certain impulse in life to skip to the last chapter in the book. In an attempt to get in on the future-guessing trend, in this post we look at the current trends of modern technology to predict what you should expect to see in the next 100 years.

Within the next 20 years

     •     Autonomous cars will be a reality. Autonomous car features            such as automatic brakes, hands-free parallel parking, and            collision avoidance will find their way into more cars (while            engineers figure out a way around the autonomous car’s            biggest hurdle—other drivers).
     •     The first real-world quantum computer will be commercially            introduced (and binary digits will give way to quantum bits, or            qubits).
     •     Internet of Things technology will reinvent how medicine,            clothing, and everyday conveniences work. Imagine a cash            register built into your grocery store shopping cart, where            items placed in the cart are automatically purchased without            the need of a cashier. Imagine your doctor knowing that you            are sick even before you do because she received a message from the ingested computers in your body. With            single-board computers now being as small as 1.5 centimeters, such possibilities are not far off.
     •     3D printing and “bioscaffolding” will make tissue replacement simpler. Regenerative technologies such as            bioscaffolding—or the building of a 3D artificial structure that would encourage tissue growth or even the development of            a new organ—bears the possibility of making tissue donor sourcing and patient organ rejection a thing of the past.

Within the next 50 years

     •     Advances in organic processors and in thermal conductivity for artificial muscles will not only make androids            economically feasible, but will also make fully-functional cybernetic limbs possible. The first true cyborg (in which more            than 50 percent of a person is replaced by mechanical devices) will be introduced.
     •     The world’s media will be completely digitized and made available for general download.
     •     Fuel efficiency and new engine designs such as the pulse detonation engine will make affordable commercial supersonic            and subspace flight feasible.
     •     We will have visited Mars multiple times and will be in the process of establishing a permanent colony on the red planet.

Within the next 100 years

     •     Urban living spaces will be redefined with the advent of vertical farms or skyscrapers in which the floors are dedicated to            indoor farming and cities are self-contained in super-skyscrapers.
     •     The first interstellar flight will have successfully launched to Alpha Centauri (the closest star system to our sun).
     •     Gasoline and other consumable hydrocarbon fuels will be made obsolete by renewable energy sources by the advent of            both micro- and macro-scale fusion reactors and by social moves toward local sustainable living.
     •     Everyone who is currently reading this will most likely be dead.

While we hope you enjoy our list, we recognize that to some predicting the future is an attempt to limit and define what is possible. When asked about predicting the future, science fiction author Ray Bradbury said, “People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it … You look … around you … and predict more of the same. To hell with more. I want better.”

It may be that the best prediction of the future is that the future is unpredictable; the human spirit is infinite and so is its possibilities.

The Basics of Data Encryption

As the world becomes ever more connected, data encryption—once a topic so unsexy it almost seemed taboo—has slowly turned into a hot topic that we’ve come to rely on more and more. With your phone spouting off your credit card number and with people logging into Facebook at every public computer they can find, data about us is everywhere and it’s valuable. Data encryption is how programmers can make sure that our data doesn’t fall into places where it wasn’t intended to go. But how does it work?

Encryption was born out of cryptography, the science of secret codes. Just like if you wrote a note with a cipher and only someone with the same cipher could decode it, encryption requires a key. Quality encryption always has one common feature: the algorithm (aka the process to encrypting something) can be public, but the key will always be private. Even the smartest hackers in the world can’t break into encrypted data if they don’t know the key.

Encryption ciphers of today fall into one of two categories: secret key and public key. Secret key is also known as symmetric cryptography because both people (or computers) must have the same key, and it is usually used for sensitive or private data. Data Encryption Standard (or DES) was one of the strongest secret-key algorithms when it was first made available for public use in the 1970s.

Public-key, or asymmetric, algorithms use a pair of keys: one public key that’s to be shared with other people and one private key that’s kept in secret by its owner. This way, anyone can send the owner encrypted data by using the public key, but only the owner can decode those messages using the private key.

Secret-key ciphers are either stream or block ciphers. Stream ciphers encrypt data one bit at a time by writing a long string of bits with no repeats and hiding the message within it. One common example of this type of cipher is the RC4 (Ron Rivest’s Cipher #4), which is used by a large number of e-commerce stores. Other uses for stream ciphers include cellphone traffic and satellite TV signals.

Block ciphers, on the other hand, encrypt data in blocks of multiple bits. This results in an encrypted data block that is the same size as the original data block. For example, DES takes 64-bit blocks and returns another 64-bit block using a 56-bit key.

Other examples of block cipher encryption methods are Blowfish and AES. Blowfish was introduced by Bruce Schneier and uses huge keys. Its block size is 64 bits and it provides a good encryption rate with variable key length of from 32 bits up to 448 bits. AES, on the other hand, accepts keys of 128, 192 or 256 bits and uses 128-bit blocks—double the size of Blowfish and DES. AES replaced the aging DES in the 1990s as the standard symmetric encryption algorithm for the US government.

Data encryption is a big topic and encompasses the fields of mathematics, computer science, and cryptography. In its simplest form, encryption is just a way of changing information that makes it unreadable by anyone except those in possession of the key, which is what allows them to change the information back to its original form. Because the amount of data the world creates will likely never fail to increase and because that data must be protected from increasingly more sophisticated hackers, data encryption will continue to be a hot topic.

The Nuances of Cloud Computing

The cloud has already changed the way data is stored, and while cloud storage is the most common feature of cloud computing, it is by no means the only, or the most innovative aspect of this digital resource. Here’s a look at cloud computing and what it can do.

Storage and Computation
The cloud does a lot more than you might think. For instance, cloud computing is used for gaming, especially by Microsoft in regards to the Xbox One console. While the cloud is great for data storage, it can also be used for computing tasks via the Internet. The Xbox One may boast some pearly specs, but what makes it truly powerful is that it can outsource some of the computations to the cloud which in turn allows the console to deliver better graphics, a higher frame rate, and increased bandwidth.

Another benefit of the cloud is that it’s cost effective. If you use it primarily for storage, the amount of storage you get for the cost is the best deal on the market. If you were to buy external hardware for data storage, for instance, it would be a far larger investment.

The flexibility the cloud provides is its biggest benefit. Access extra computing power or any data anywhere you are. Whether your work requires travel, or you find yourself most productive out of the office, the cloud works for you.

Storage Encryption
When data is stored in the cloud it is encrypted at the point of travel and while at rest within the cloud’s physical data center. When the data arrives at its destination an integrity check is applied that compares the data sent to the data received. This weeds out any anomalies or potential tampering that may have occurred in transit. However, the true security is the cyber perimeter, hosts, and applications. While in-transit data is a concern, data centers are big targets for potential cyber threats. Sophisticated data center operations help ensure that your data is secure regardless of the type of threat its exposed to.

The Cloud and Businesses
The cloud has changed businesses forever. Boiled down, the cloud is a cost-saving technology. It is an easy way for businesses to share information, projects, and resources with employees, clients, and customers.

Not only has the cloud made the cost of operations lower, it has also made it easier to start a business. This has led to a influx of startups and entrepreneurship around the world. Small companies can share collective infrastructure costs in the form of  subscription-based cloud services, such as Mozy by EMC. Small businesses are no longer tasked with a grand initial investment in terms of computing infrastructure, which promotes creativity in terms of new startups.

Mobile workforces have become common. A central office is no longer needed for businesses, especially small ones, which cuts costs even further because the cloud can be accessed by employees anywhere. Quite simply, cloud computing has changed where and how people work in profound ways.

Securing Your Data in the Cloud

In the late ‘90s when consumer Internet was relatively new, there was a controversy swirling around online commerce: is it safe to use your credit card online? Fast forward to today. Online commerce is ubiquitous, and one of the largest credit card breaches recently occurred in Target’s brick and mortar stores. Now with enterprise cloud computing, there’s another controversy swirling: is it safe to store your data in the cloud? As a provider of EMC cloud services—including Mozy and Spanning—and in working to tier our on-premises storage products to an EMC object service, I’m often asked this question. The answer depends upon the level of security deployed by the cloud service. Just as online commerce sites vary in their level of sophistication, so do cloud services when it comes to security features, operations, and compliance.

By federating identity and authentication with employees’ corporate authentication service, IT can make access to these services more convenient and more secure. Revoking a former employee’s corporate credentials also revokes access to the associated cloud service. Data should be encrypted in transit and at rest, and customers should have an option to either use encryption keys provided by the cloud service or apply their own corporate encryption keys. To validate that the data arriving in the cloud is exactly the same as from the point of origin, the service should apply a payload integrity validation check, which safeguards against either accidental or intended corruption in transit. And a solid role-based access schema will ensure authorized users can only perform the duties for which they are intended, reserving privileged/administrative rights to the few, while allowing capabilities such as simple reads and writes to the many. Finally, to respect data sovereignty laws, the service should provide geographical data residency options.

Now that the right data has landed in the right place, let’s review the data center operations to make sure it stays that way! Physical access must be strictly controlled on building and cage entrances by professional security staff utilizing video surveillance, alarm systems, and other electronic means, while legitimate access is granted through two-factor authorizations (for example, passcode and fingerprint) and strictly enforced visitor policies. But even more important is cyber hardening of the perimeter, hosts, and applications. Even one security hole in the perimeter could be exploited to gain access through the intended boundary, allowing access to the high-value servers and data within the product environment. In this sense, an ounce of prevention goes further than a pound of cure. Steps like ongoing vulnerability monitoring (especially critical zero-day vulnerabilities) and solid patching practices are essential. Add to that a practice of gold image creation and maintenance that contains all necessary configurations to ensure the hosts are configured securely; for instance, all unnecessary services are turned off at install. Access management is also crucial, and increased security measures for legitimate administrators, such as two-factor authentication with one-time passwords like with RSA’s Secure ID capabilities, go a long way in preventing brute force password hacks.

The next step in prevention is early detection. While the expectation of a perfectly hardened environment is a noble one, in reality, active monitoring provides an ideal air cushion in the event a flaw is exploited somewhere along the way. Tools such as RSA Security Analytics provide alerts from both unexpected log activity and indicators of compromise within the active network traffic flow, while ensuring log and network capture data is maintained in an unalterable state for future investigations and forensic needs. And in case the worst happens, the service needs a trained incident response and containment team available 24/7.

How does one know that a service is taking these measures? That’s where it can be helpful to have a thorough attestation of the level of security provided. There are self-certification attestations, such as assuming responsibility as a Business Associate under HIPAA, and there are independently certified attestations, such as SOC I or 2 Type 2, ISO 27001:2013, just to name a few. In addition, some services employ security professionals to help address customer-specific inquiries and reviews.

When it comes to security there are no absolutes, but with the right security features, operations and compliance in place, a cloud service can provide the same or better protection than on-premises data protection options. After all, corporate IT environments are also susceptible to attacks, and most of them are not held to the same standards or external reviews described here.

Singing praises for the cloud

More than 1 exabyte of files are stored in the cloud today, as reported by Neowin news.

So what’s an exabyte? First, consider that the prefix exa means 1 billion billion. A good way to think of an exabyte is to think of it in terms of bytes. An exabyte is equal to 1 quintillion bytes. That’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes! One exabyte is equal to more than 1 billion gigabytes. To be precise, 1,073,741,824 gigabytes.

What if you had an iPod that could store an exabyte? Yeah, we know, that’s some kind of super iPod. It’s like the power of every superhero transformed into the world’s largest iPod EVER! But just for fun, let’s say you had a iPod with that much storage. What could you store?

Are you a music lover? In terms of CD-quality tunes, a superhero iPod with an exabyte of storage could hold 214,748,364,800 of your favorite songs! Come to think of it, with that many songs, they wouldn’t all be your favorites. In fact, we’re pretty sure you would hate some of those songs. We’re also thinking that there aren’t that many songs written. But just think about the possibilities. For example, you would have plenty of storage for songs of the future.

And speaking of tunes, remember the slogan Apple used when it released its first iPod, “1,000 songs in your pocket” back in 2001? That device took advantage of a 5 GB hard drive. A lot has changed since then. For example, today’s smartphones typically come equipped with 32 gigabytes of storage. That’s a lot of songs to carry in your pocket! Enough storage for your favorite, almost favorite, and not-so-favorite songs, including songs you hate! And plenty of other files.

As we witness all of the changes that technology brings, we never cease to be amazed by the amount of data associated with those changes. To be sure, there isn’t any pocketable device on which you can store 214,748,364,800 tunes. But one thing we know for sure: Files (such as all of those songs!) and other data still need to be backed up and protected. And that’s one reason why the cloud will continue to grow by petabytes, exabytes and zettabytes, and why it is more relevant today than ever before. Consider that by 2018, more than three quarters of workloads will be processed by cloud data centers, according to the Cisco Global Cloud Index. The index predicts that annual global cloud IP traffic will reach 6.5 zettabytes by the end of 2018.

So, what’s a zettabyte? One zettabyte equals a lot of exabytes! To be precise, 1,024 exabytes. Now that’s a lot of songs—yesterday’s, today’s, and everything in our future. The cloud is ready to back them all up—and all of your other data. And that’s worth singing about.

The Mozy Cloud Is the Cat’s Meow

Domestic cats don’t depend on their owners to feel secure when they’re in unfamiliar environments. According to a recent University of Lincoln study, adult cats are more autonomous than dogs and not as dependent on humans to provide a sense of protection.

When it comes to cat owners, that’s probably not news. After all, you know how cats are. They like to put on that air of confidence: “Hey, I don’t need you. I’m independent.” And there’s nothing at all to be done about that!

But cats certainly have their appeal, as the study pointed out. For pet owners who work long hours, many see a cat as an ideal pet. Autonomous. Independent. Economical. And practically maintenance free. No wonder the domestic cat has recently passed the dog as the most popular companion animal in Europe.

And speaking of cats, the Mozy cloud is a lot like the domestic cat. Autonomous. Independent. Economical. And practically maintenance free. For a moment, let’s consider some of the benefits of backing up to the Mozy cloud.

Autonomous: When you back up your data to the Mozy cloud, it’s self-contained. You never have to worry about where your data is. You own it, and it’s always safe and accessible. Kind of like your pet cat: out of sight, but always still around.

Independent: People who back up to the Mozy cloud are the independent sort. We’re not saying you’re like cats, but like you, cats do cherish their independence. Backing up your data to our cloud puts you in charge of how often you back up, when you back up, and which files you back up.

Economical: Backing up your data to the Mozy cloud offers plenty of options. You purchase the storage space that works best for you. No expensive long-term contracts. Check up on your plan every now and then, increase storage space as necessary, and you’re always good to go. Just like feeding a kitten. As it grows, feed it more.

Maintenance free: IT is busier than ever. So much to do, but rarely enough time (or budget) to do everything. By backing up to the Mozy cloud, you free up valuable in-house IT resources. Automatic backups mean peace of mind and time to focus on more important things, like running your business.

Mozy by EMC not only protects endpoints and remote offices, the solution helps increase workforce productivity with file sync and mobile access. And IT stays in control of corporate data. Mozy’s cloud backup solution for desktops, laptops, and small servers gives you more complete data protection for users on any network, and the administrative console lets you manage it all from anywhere. No wonder Mozy by EMC is the most trusted name in cloud data protection.

With all of those benefits, Mozy cloud backup is truly the cat’s meow.

Our cloud is being raised on fruits, veggies, and whole grains

There are a lot of very old people living in the United States. We’re not talking about men and women who live beyond the average life expectancy of 79.8 years (for males, 77.4 years; for females, 82.2 years), according to the World Health Organization. We’re talking about seemingly super humans who are well beyond a century old.

Just a few weeks ago the U.S. Social Security Administration’s inspector general identified 6.5 million Social Security numbers that are older than 112 years. According to Social Security records, the individuals who were issued these numbers were born before June 16, 1901.

One individual, according to her Social Security Number, opened her first bank account in 1869. (We’ll assume it’s a her because women in general live longer.)

The problem stems from no death date ever being entered for those Social Security numbers, and those same numbers still being used for a variety of purposes, all of them fraudulent (unless, of course, you really are 112 years old or older). So, at least on paper, the individuals associated with those Social Security numbers have exceeded the maximum reasonable life expectancy.

The truth is, people aren’t really living that long. According to the Gerontology Research Group, only 35 people made it to the ripe-old of age of 112 as of October 2013. And that’s worldwide.

Living an extra-long time got us thinking about data and how it’s stored and backed up. How long does data “live”? The better question is: How long does the device on which the data is stored or backed up to live?

  • Data stored on tape: Data stored on tape starts to disappear when the tape starts losing its magnetic charge. Not only is tape susceptible to wear and tear, high humidity and temperatures are problematic. Maybe 10 to 30 years, but we’re not talking centenary storage.
  • Data stored on CDs and DVDs: According to the Optical Storage Technology Association, the unrecorded shelf life of CDs and DVDs is between 5 to 10 years. For recorded CDs and DVDs, perhaps 25 years.
  • Data stored on drives: Hard to say. According to one study, three years is the point where hard drives start wearing out.
  • Data in the cloud: Forever (even centenarians with fake Social Security numbers can’t compete).

Although cloud computing is relatively new, Mozy by EMC has been around since 2005, which makes us one of the oldest cloud backup services. If the Social Security Administration were to issue the Mozy cloud a Social Security number, our number would be in perpetuum.

BTW, if you’ve got your sights set on living to be a century old—or coming as close as possible—here is some information that should prove useful:

  • Maintain some level of activity (like the doctor from Paris who even at the age of 99 walked up three sets of stairs every day on the way up to his study).
  • Move to a geographical area where people live longer than average (if you don’t speak Japanese, it’s time to learn! Okinawans live longer than anyone else in the world).
  • Eat, but not too much (and eating the right kinds of foods will help; foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains).

What do Furbies and cloud computing have in common?

The dawn of AI is here and it’s all possible because of cloud computing.

Let’s go back to the ’90s when Furbies became popular. The little toy fur ball had a small bit of Artificial Intelligence. It may be hard to believe, but that little guy had more computing power than the Apollo 11. Yes, the spacecraft that landed man on the moon. Fresh out of the box these AI fur balls would talk Furbish, the language of the Furby. After children had interacted with them for a while, their Furbies would learn certain English words. Furbies could even interact with each other if you had multiple units. Furbish was translated into 24 languages.

Furbies were not only cute (if a cross between a hamster and an owl is your idea of cute), the fact that they were able to “learn” a few words made them endearing. However, they obviously didn’t show the intelligence or the discernment of a human. But that would change a few years later when in 1997 a team of programmers and chess experts programed a machine called Deep Blue. The supercomputer had enough reason and logic to beat World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov at chess. The Russian had the upper hand the first few games, but Deep Blue progressed and eventually beat the chess Grandmaster, considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time.

Watson is our next step in the progression of AI. Watson, an artificially intelligent computer system, was programed to be able to listen to a question (think Siri on your smartphone) and then answer that question. To prove how brilliant this AI was, in 2011 TV quiz game Jeopardy had Watson on a show and matched it up against two of Jeopardy’s greatest champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. At the conclusion of the competition, Ken and Brad lost to Watson.

Enter cloud computing. For those who are familiar with the cloud, you know that it’s not just a buzz word. The platform is essentially thousands of remote servers working together in a centralized location. Users can then access the data either created or stored on those servers via a device such as a handheld device or laptop.

You probably see where I am going with this. The next logical step for AI is to let the cloud do the computing at lightning speeds, like Watson did on Jeopardy, and then send that information back to the device or AI being, such as the character Lieutenant Commander Data from Star Trek. We can see an early concept with CogniToy’s green dino. The green dino is a child’s toy about the size of a teddy bear that can carry on a conversation on different topics, tell a story, and even answer age-related questions. The intelligence grows or matures with the child. In fact, the green dino even has the ability to discern whether or not the answer is a little too mature for the age of the child, at which point the toy will tell the child to go ask his mom the question. All of this “smart” dino’s responses are computed in the cloud.

Currently, the only limitation of AI is being able to reach a Wi-Fi connection. However, as municipal wireless networks (where the entire city has access to a Wi-Fi signal) become more and more popular, this AI obstacle may not be around for much longer, allowing AI to continue to grow intellectually.

With giant tech companies such as Google buying up AI startups and cloud computing advancing so rapidly, it’s reasonable to expect ongoing funding for AI—and artificial intelligent beings in our lifetime. All thanks to cloud computing.

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.

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