Let’s talk about your g,g,g,generation. Which are you? Generation X is currently (and very possibly, somewhat anxiously) saving towards retirement, Generation Y is currently (and very possibly, somewhat anxiously) saving towards a house purchase, but Generation Cloud is perfectly chilled, and has no need for deep pockets – literally or metaphorically.
The Cloud enables 24/7 access to massive amounts of data storage meaning its namesake Generation effortlessly tackles the working week armed with nothing but a smartphone in one hand, and a skinny fair trade soya latte macchiato in the other. And, even better, the costs here a negligible: Facebook? Free. Instagram? Nada. YouTube? Comp. And list goes on. From Dropbox, to Google Drive, to Snapchat, to Spotify, to Twitter, to WhatsApp, Clouders are welcome to endless refills at the Cloud organic salad bar.
The result is a group of users who view external disk drives in much the same way Generation X looks at fax machines – apparently once useful, but certainly not needed now. And the statistical claims of increased reliability on the Cloud are not π in the virtual sky. YouTube, for example, counts more than 1 billion unique users very month. (Context? On 20 July 1969, 530 million people watched the first humans walk on the surface of the moon.)
Flexibility is the key here. In both social lives and work lives – though to Clouders the lines between both are increasingly blurred – the Cloud makes good things possible. Working from home, the café, even the park is no longer considered ‘skiving off’ while ‘homing from work’ is now so common, Clouders may not even realise they do it – from doing the weekly shopping, to central heating setting, to lunchtime feasting on Netflix, these are all tasks previously reserved for out of hours. And the Cloud enables all, in one way or another.
Paradoxically, though, while uber-flexible Clouders seem content to store massive amounts of personal data in the Cloud, they are also among the most vociferous when it comes to perceived attacks on online privacy. Outcries whenever Facebook is seen to adjust privacy settings in its commercial favour, let alone when purchases the likes of Whatsapp, are testament to this.
As a result, perhaps those from Generation Cloud – as they evolve from ‘workers’ to ‘decision makers’ – will be the generation to more carefully consider how not only their personal, but also business data should be stored. It’s simple to imagine, especially for SMEs, that an ‘all in’ scenario is the ultimate business data hosting goal – the cloud takes the lot, removing a large cost – from hardware, to specialist staff, to physical footprint, it all adds up – from the local operation.
But, as is often the way in life, a ‘balanced diet’ of public and private clouds is increasingly seen as the ideal SME model. The ‘hybrid cloud’ lets organisations retain applications best suited to hardware, whilst migrating remaining services to the cloud – be that a public server or, taking security considerations perhaps into account, a private hosted cloud.
Hey, if a cloud-based storage strategy is good enough for the CIA – Amazon is reportedly building a $600 million private cloud for ‘The Company’ – then it’s worth considering for all SMEs. But what we have here is a whole new data storage landscape, and it’ll take more than a quick chat over lattes for a business to determine the best approach. And any CEO or CTO who thinks differently undoubtedly has his/her head in the clouds.