The dizzying speed at which technology can move often leaves the casual observer baffled. One day something is space-age, think gesture controlled games consoles and TVs, the next it ‘comes as standard’. Cloud computing is now such a well-established technology that when Apple, Microsoft and Amazon talk about “keeping it in the cloud”, most techno-fans know exactly what they are talking about.
While indeed well-established, the bounds of advancement in all aspects of cloud computing and cloud solutions means that the whole concept can feel brand new. Though some are generally comfortable entrusting their media library to the Apple iCloud, there are many who shudder at not having their data on hardware they can hold in their hands, or on servers that they own.
Until recently there was some good reason for this; at the inaugural International Conference on Cloud Computing, held in Lisbon, Portugal in 2010, one concern that was repeatedly raised was that there was no security standard for cloud computing. While this didn’t necessarily leave data at risk, it was incredibly difficult to claim that security was anywhere close to 100% tight.
As well as security advancements, the last two years have seen a push towards cleaner inter-operability, with the Open Cloud Consortium (OCC) taking that very concept as their main remit. To try and keep pace with the evolving technology, both Europe and the United States have sought reassurances that cloud operators adhere to existing laws surrounding personal data with the United States even going so far as to instruct the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) to assess and provide authorisation to cloud providers.
Perhaps the most significant advancement in recent years has been the move towards ‘greener’ cloud solutions. Vastly increasing cloud usage has led to data centres becoming one of the largest electricity consumers in the developed world and so providers are keen to use methods such as ‘free cooling’ (where natural cooling is provided by wind or surroundings) and intelligent power allocation to cut down on costs but also cut down on carbon emissions.
There is little doubt, within the industry or without, that cloud computing provides a model for the way we store data in the future and has been a long-held ambition for many,with one industry insider pointing out that “you may not have to manage your own storage. You may not store much before too long.” Who said that? Steve Jobs. When? 1996