Ask the IT Consultant

Sep 30 2010   8:30PM GMT

Leveraging Cloud Storage – A New Data Paradigm

Beth Cohen Beth Cohen Profile: Beth Cohen

Question: How will cloud computing architectures affect access and manipulation of my data? Will being on the cloud carry more risk than I already have?

Recently I had an eye-opening experience.  I asked my sophomore business IT class how many of them owned various computing devices.  Unsurprisingly, 100% of them would not be caught dead without their Smart-Phone.  The majority had either Droids or iPhones, with a few Blackberries in the mix — sorry HP, the Palm is dead unless you hustle to catch up soon.  About 40% of them had an iPad or other tablet device in addition to their laptops.  Interesting that they thought nothing of owning three, what in my mind are, devices with similar functions.

I then asked the students if they were concerned with syncing all their information between all the different devices.  They looked at me rather puzzled.  They were not concerned because to them, the Smart-phone, tablets and laptops were just methods to connect to their data.  As far as they were concerned the authoritative copy of the data was located safely in the cloud, as it should be.  The devices to them were merely dumb terminals – although I am quite sure they would not even understand just what that meant.  What is important for the enterprise IT organization is that these twenty year-olds have made an important shift in thinking about how and where data is stored; a paradigm that we all need to accept and embrace to realize the real power of the cloud for the enterprise.

For all those people who think their data is safely stored on servers that are buried deep inside their protected LAN, their heads buried in the sand.  If you have data and you work with suppliers, customers, or employees, your data is out there on the cloud whether you like it or not.  Yes, you should be concerned with protecting that data properly, but the answer is not to install yet more firewalls and layers of obscurity.  The answer is to design the right architectures and the correct security to assure that the data is always available to the right people at the right time and at the right location.  My students, all future business leaders, have gotten the message, why haven’t the rest of us?  Maybe it is because too many IT people realize the inevitability of change, and how moving to the cloud spells doom for the old monolithic IT shops.

About the Author

Beth Cohen, Cloud Technology Partners, Inc.

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