Home user and professional cloud services are growing fast. While ‘enterprise grade’ cloud computing offerings now proliferate from big name virtualization vendors, some equally big names have made free services available to all with limited (but still useful) storage capacity.
Five gigabytes of free cloud storage is currently available on Apple iCloud, Microsoft Skydrive and Ubuntu One. Plus of course there is processing power available too, so users can work on documents and files “in the cloud” when they have an online connection.
Click and wait
As we now start to use these services more regularly, it is this online connectivity factor that really comes into question. Getting our data in and out of the cloud clearly depends upon the familiar process of “upload and download”. But is it just a simple question of “click and wait”, or do we need to think about what’s happening just a little more closely to understand how we are going to now move forward with cloud computing?
Yes you could very probably live your life by simply clicking and waiting. But the intelligent user might like to think about exactly what is happening here when we make requests to the cloud.
At the enterprise level we see cloud storage block technologies now being developed to intelligently manage chunks of data that need to be moved around. Also at the enterprise level we see cloud vendors striving to build more local data centers, close to areas of high cloud usage as the effect of “latency” down the Internet pipe can actually have an effect on how quickly users can get hold of (or send) their cloud data.
The (not so) global cloud?
Yes the cloud can be used by anyone from anywhere, but it’s not quite as global as it is initially positioned to be once we really start putting it through its paces. Just exactly where your cloud data center is can really matter when it comes to questions of legal compliance and governance i.e. certain countries demand that companies keep data inside the country’s borders, even in the cloud.
It can also matter when it comes to questions of speed and latency delays when the cloud model is used in healthcare or in science and research i.e. a promise of “your download will complete soon” is not sometimes not enough.
What we see happening in terms of enterprise level data center locality, latency concerns and data management will ultimately impact the home user cloud that we access on our desktops and on our tablets and mobiles. Just a little background knowledge here could help you think more about what the cloud is doing in the background, which could improve the way you intend to use and protect the data that you share over these services in the future.