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One-Way Trip

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Monday, 05 March 2012

Clouds So Good Total Security, Protection are Unnecessary

“If you let those people that own those joints have an inch, they'll steal the whole state... It looks like they already got a leg up on it.”Buford, “Walking Tall,” Bing Crosby Productions, 1973

Without much fanfare, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) recently turned the lights off on their last remaining mainframe computer.

It’s not like they’re shutting down their whole operation; but it’s a great example of the way the traditional IT model has changed.

They still have a lot of desktop computers – probably as powerful as the room full of hardware that went dark. In addition they (and we) are using more and more mobile devices – smartphones, tablets, notebooks (soon ultrabooks) -- and mobile services.

So many devices are out there, so many services, so many options, it’s tough to know:
- what’s right for you
- what does what it says it does
- what does what they don’t want to mention, but does
- who’s gonna’ last

A fresh example of the switch is Apple’s latest Mac OS (Mountain Lion). It didn’t slip by many folks that it shares a whole lotta’ iOS features, capabilities.

It’s why Windows 8 has so many mobile computing features, capabilities and gives you a glimpse of their mobile strategy.

These folks aren’t interested in selling you their software.

Usage Buying

They want to buy into it in bits and pieces, little by little with a very person-friendly name – SaaS (software as a service).

It will all be wrapped in a cool hardware/software name – cloud computing.

You’re doing it, just didn’t realize it.



Illustration Source: IDC
Clouds Galore – You’re nobody in the industry if you’re not offering a bunch of different cloud products/services. No one simply sells hardware or software anymore. It’s a service industry.

You’re using “their” services – Facebook, Chrome +, iTunes, Picasa, iCloud, Flickr, Amazon Cloud, Printerest, Twitter, pick your fave.

Some you pay for, some you pay for.

O.K., so the second form of payment isn’t hard money; but you’re paying because they’re scraping/using your information (check Wikipedia - data mining).

Heck, even the benevolent “Do No Evil” Google recently got tagged grabbing stuff from our kid’s iPhone (O.K., maybe not his, but…).

It’s unusual for them to make such an “error” because they’ve been so nice to their billions of users and hundreds of thousands of employees by providing so much free stuff.

You know … your Gmail account, Google Maps, YouTube entertainment, Google Docs, translation, all those other neat little things that don’t cost you a thing but your name, rank, serial number, everything you ever did/going to do, photos you wish someone hadn’t taken/posted, little things like that.

O.K., maybe kinda’, just a little evil.

All those other free service companies?

They’re just glad it was Google that got caught making that error…not them.

Protection Hunters

Of course, a lot of folks like the fact you’re in such a hurry to put all the details in the cloud like the FBI, CIA, MI6, MSS (China), BfV (Germany), Mossad (Israel), others.

The more stuff you put up there the easier it is for them to protect you from…them.

As Obra asked, “How does it feel to be part of the oppressed minority?”

Oh, there’s no backing out now; for the most part folks are in the cloud and taking full advantage of it.

Photo Source: Maxwell Smart, Globe
Your Device, Our Data – BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or consumerization of IT came about because the boss liked his iPhone/smartphone. Then, he and the other important folks liked the iPad. Then, there’s the computing device. It’s your device and a combination of your/my/our data that has generated the need for a whole new level of enterprise service, support, protection.

While there may be a little concern about company information/secrets, your boss is pretty happy with your increased use of smartphones, tablets and mobile computers.

You probably were delighted when he/she said you could BYOD (bring your own device) and the company may even pick up part of the cost.

After all, it makes it easier for you to blur the lines between your personal/business life so you can work remotely, at home, on holiday.

And you do.

Busy Highways – Content – data, photos, videos, presentations – is growing in leaps and bounds with all of our mobile devices producing volumes of data and metadata. By 2015, it will have increased an estimated 12-fold. 

In fact, Cisco recently estimated that cloud computing traffic will increase a whopping 12 times by 2015, compared to the traffic volume of last year.

All the traffic will come from:
- 4.6 quadrillion emails sent
- 1.8 quadrillion web pages browsed
- 230 trillion photos uploaded to Facebook
- 99 trillion minutes of YouTube videos watched
- streaming video/TV, streaming music

It’s all part of living in an always-on and sometimes (or most-of-the-time) connected world. But it really tightens your jaws when you’re left hanging high, dry and can’t connect.

Not Perfect

It happens…even the best can only claim 99.8 percent uptime (more like 99.5 percent) which is still better than the NASA or other data centers that average about 90 percent uptime.

Or, as Grady said, “What am I supposed to do? He deals the cards... I just play the hand I get.”

We don’t like it but we tolerate it in this imperfect world because it’s either free or costs almost nothing.

One cloud thing we just can’t get into is the rush for cloud storage.

Data Weight Problem – People upload 24-hours of video content to YouTube every 60 seconds. The broadcast industry throws up audio/video content of all types just to entertain you. People of every age/sex grab the content they want/need and store it. It’s no wonder that IDC has moved their storage projections up into the Zettabyte category (just a monstrous pile of stuff) of storage. 

You may have heard a rumor that storage is becoming such a major problem that the best way for you to solve it is to store your stuff in their clouds.

Oh sure, we use their picture storage when we’re passing photos to friends/family, even documents/presentations we’re passing around.

We’re just not into using them for our serious, important, private tablet/computer storage back-up.

You probably didn’t notice it, but they’re storage clouds are big.

Being big they’re the first places those “protective services” go when they’re looking for someone/something.

Dangerous Clouds – Just the name – cloud – sounds so big, gentle but there can be all kinds of problems in them. The cloud service people have their agendas, which isn’t too bad when the storage is free. But huge clouds of data/information – riches – are the places you hack first if you’re less than honest.

They’re also the places where hackers, whackers, hacktavists and cyber crooks hang out just waiting for you to store things like your PINs, Passwords and important data.

Then to, there are the people (they’re only human) who designed systems that never make mistakes…never make mistakes.

As John Witter said, “Ya know, ideals and realties are very far apart.”

So it’s possible for cloud service providers to lose the data you stored on their servers.

But you’re more likely to lose your data when you want to change cloud service providers, or fail to meet their terms of service (TOS).

You did read the user agreement, right?


Sorry About That

A lot of them say right there in their mouse type that when you terminate their service they automatically delete your data…poof!

Then too, they often tell you right up front (mouse type) that anything you store on their servers is okay for them to use.

For example, Google’s, Facebook’s TOS (everyone is pretty similar) states that if you post, submit or display content on or through their services they have perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive licenses to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute the stuff.

So we use them as sparingly as possible and encourage our kids to think two or three times before they park their content in the cloud.

All of our devices – smartphone, tablet, notebook (soon to be upgraded to an ultrabook) and desktop – are heavied up on storage capacity.

Ours is Ours

Sure, we use the cloud to back up the devices. But we also have personal and family clouds.

Our personal cloud is a quad-interface, 1.5TB dual-drive RAID. It’s rugged, easy to take back/forth to the office/home; and can be tucked in my bag if I even think I’m going to need more information, more storage.

Our Cloud – While it’s impossible to avoid the cloud with all the web services that are out there, it’s not a place we want to store anything we feel is important or private. Our new home cloud is a 16TB RAID that we hope will be enough storage and backup for a year or so. But the way our kids pack away photos, videos, music, ebooks, web research and other stuff, it’s hard to tell; but at least it’s a smaller invasion target with pretty good security.

For the family cloud, we just connected an OWC Qx2 desktop RAID unit to our home server. It has a whopping 16TB capacity, which should meet the needs of everyone…for a little while.

We have a similar (smaller capacity) in the office just in case of a disaster at home.

We can focus on getting all of us to safety and still know our data is still our data and is safe.

And we have an off-premise data back-up for our email, calendars, contacts, important content.

It’s probably a little overkill (actually a couple of the folks at IDC say its way overkill), but our personal/family clouds are just something we trust a little more than “their” cloud storage.

You have to remember as long time industry analyst Andrew Seybold said not long ago, the cloud isn’t a mission-critical network or place.

If hackers have a choice between our lowly personal/home cloud storage or those big, bloated cloud warehouses, which one do you think they’re going to tap?


As Thurman said, “No presence required, JUST BRUTE ANIMAL FORCE!”

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