It has been less than 10 years since the introduction of cloud apps like Microsoft Azure and Google Drive. In that time cloud technology has become an all-encompassing tool that is used by nearly every industry and government on the planet.
The cloud makes sense; outsource your computing power, security and storage to organisations that are better at it than you. Removal of upfront hardware expenses combined with the flexibility to scale up and down, the cloud has become the go-to option for organisations and consumers seeking to improve their technology.
As cloud usage increases, what does the future hold?
The Cloud and Security
One hurdle to total cloud adoption are perceptions around security. The technology is still new and users are hesitant to completely use cloud providers.
A survey conducted by Impermium (a cyber-security company that is now part of Google) found that 43% of Americans were concerned about cloud data compromise. This isn’t a uniquely American trait, users around the world are wary of the cloud’s robustness.
End User View
Combating this attitude is obviously an issue for businesses that use the cloud to store customer/employee data or sell cloud-based products.
foundU spoke with Dr. Frank Farrelly, Principal Dentist and Owner of Darlinghurst Dental who runs a nearly paperless office by using the cloud. He uses cloud based software as the practice’s patient management system which is also externally and locally backed up.
Dr Farrelly says healthcare data is particularly sensitive and some people are apprehensive about having their data stored in the cloud. When he explains to clients that the practice uses an Australian-based data management company who will manage their data better than a firewall at a dentist they are happy.
Director of Uptake Digital, Brenton Johnson, says the scale achieved by cloud services allows them to employ the best security experts in the world. He told foundU that businesses who use these services used to rely on their local IT guy for security, now they likely rely on the team who wrote the book the IT guy learnt from.
The cloud also allows companies to provide more secure access, like two-factor authentication which is almost impossible to implement using onsite technology.
As the cloud makes businesses more inherently secure, the focus has shifted to human error, also referred to as layer 8 in the industry. Managing Director of Axiom IT, Tas Gray, says that more often than not, security breaches are the result of human error e.g. opening an email attachment containing a virus or not using a strong password.
In early 2014, mobile usage outstripped desktop – the optimisation of cloud access and how it is used now takes places through mobile.
There are numerous challenges when using cloud through mobile devices. Speed, space and cost are problems that must be overcome to provide a seamless mobile experience.
Cost of data is currently one of the most pressing issues when it comes to cloud access. Users are happy to quickly check cloud documents using mobile devices but for longer sessions or intense tasks, Wi-Fi and a PC is usually needed.
While concern around data-cost is warranted, the benefits of the cloud far out-weigh the cost-of-access. That’s why so many businesses and consumers continue to use it.
The question that then presents itself is will all storage move to the cloud and mobile devices purely become access points?
Both Tas and Brenton think it won’t happen in the foreseeable future. Tas highlighted the fact that the majority of cloud storage providers for mobile devices (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive) rely on data synchronisation technology which stores local copies of the data to increase performance.
Alongside performance, there is the issue of user experience. Computing tasks that take place on mobile device deliver better UX.
Brenton sees much better identity solutions through mobile and social login when it comes to accessing cloud based apps. He says that our current identity and access solutions are based on things that worked before the internet but will not serve us into the future. The race is currently on to completely remove passwords and to centralise all logins into one account – “sign in with Facebook” for example.
Where to Store the Data
In the past three years, more data has been created than the entire history of the human race. This will continue to grow and it’s expected that by 2020 just under 2 megabytes of information will be created every second for every human on Earth.
What is contributing to this data explosion is the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is made up of thousands of devices, buildings, cars etc that embedded with electronics, software and sensors that are constantly producing new data.
Brenton believes that storage space won’t be the issue, rather it is the cost of processing information that will affect cloud users in the long-term. This is will have a flow on effect and determine what gets built and what doesn’t. Organisations would be wise to keep approach in mind when building their own native cloud apps.
Tas takes the same approach when discussing cloud issues. He thinks it’s not even a possibility that we will reach a storage limit due to how cheap, easy to create and dense it’s becoming.
The future of the cloud is interesting. On one hand, users face challenges with security, access costs and speeds that can’t keep up with demand. On the other, the cloud brings convenience to millions of users around the world and increases productivity.
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foundU would to thank the following sources interviewed for this story:
Dr Frank Farrelly – Principal Dentist and Owner of Darlinghurst Dental
Tas Gray – Managing Director of Axiom I.T
Brenton Johnson – Director of Uptake Digital
Brenton Johnson is a disruptive business analyst that helps organisations through the process of Digital Transformation. Brenton regularly provides thought leadership on the future of business in the 21st century economy. Brenton is also a Director of Uptake Digital, an Australian-based cloud solutions provider focusing on security and Digital Transformation.