The Four “Vs” of Cloud Computing

In this technological era, companies across the globe are searching for ways to access the ever changing landscape and benefits that technology can bring. Cloud computing is at the forefront of this technological revolution, offering numerous benefits for companies who are seeking new ways of doing business.

The benefits of cloud computing can be distilled into the Four V’s, which are:

• Value,
• Variety,
• Velocity, and
• Volume.

These four factors are merely samples of how Cloud computing can benefit your business.

VALUE – Cloud computing offers organisations and companies great value for their money. First of all, no expensive outlay of capital is needed because the cloud infrastructure already exists. Nothing new needs to be built, so there are no capital expenditures. In addition, companies can adopt the “pay-as-you-go” model, allowing them to stay within their budget. This makes investing in cloud based technologies a reasonable and controlled investment.

VARIETY – Cloud computing has the ability to be accessed on a variety of devices, ranging from handheld devices like smartphones, tablets, netbooks and home computers — essentially any device that has access to the Internet. It increases the efficiency of portable devices as important data can be uploaded and accessed on handheld devices while business travellers are on the road. In addition, a variety of users — from suppliers, clients, buyers etc. — can access the cloud for sharing and collaboration from wherever they are, at anytime.

VELOCITY – The speed at which business can be done via the cloud is simply amazing. In fact, it is revolutionary. Accessing the cloud can be instantaneous. Uploading and accessing important data can happen in less than a matter of seconds. Collaboration between colleagues can take place in a matter of seconds. The speed at which business can be done in the cloud increases a company’s efficiency and can also increase its bottom line. Therefore, accessing cloud technology saves not only money, but valuable time.

VOLUME – Cloud computing offers an organisation the ability to upload and store an unlimited amount of data. Companies no longer have to worry about reaching maximum capacity when they store their important files on the web. The amount of storage a company needs in the cloud can be scaled up or down and tailored accordingly. As a company’s storage needs expand and grow, they can rest easy knowing that they will never run out of storage space in the cloud because the cloud offers them flexible storage options.

So, if you are considering switching to cloud computing — and cloud backup and storage for your business — remember the four V’s of cloud computing: Value, Variety, Velocity, and Volume.

Why Are Companies and IT Professionals Reluctant to Use the Cloud?

For a variety of reasons, today, many professionals are reluctant to use the cloud. In fact, a recent IDG survey revealed of that of 153 IT professionals, most of them are reluctant to use the cloud to store data and that only 13 percent of organisation store their files in the cloud. The good news is that as time goes on, more users will become less reluctant to use the cloud; and will realise why it is beneficial for them to access this cutting edge technology. But, what are the underlying reasons why more companies and professionals are not using the cloud?

Perhaps part of the reluctance stems from the fact that like any new technology, there is a fear of the unknown. This fear of the unknown and using a new technology breeds mistrust. There could be a fear of losing data, of not feeling secure that transferring their files to the cloud will ensure that their data is safe.

The reluctance cannot stem from the cost of switching over to the cloud. Switching over to the cloud is a cost effective way of doing business that does not require a major capital investment. It allows businesses to store their data and access it instantaneously.

It could also not be due to a lack of flexibility. The cloud allows IT users and businesses a great deal of flexibility, particularly frequent business travellers. For example, with just a handheld device like a smart phone and access to files in the cloud, employees can be anywhere in the world accessing the data that they need for a meeting, briefing, seminar or workshop. The cloud frees them up from carrying files with them or even taking a laptop or tablet. Accessing data on a smart phone allows business travellers to communicate and collaborate with their colleagues wherever they happen to be travelling.

So, whatever the reluctance may stem from, there is a need to tout the benefits of the cloud to those who don’t yet see the benefits of using it yet. Perhaps it is just a simple matter of a lack of awareness. Many end users might be using cloud technology without even being aware that they are using it (Google docs for example or the Kindle Cloud reader being prime examples). Perhaps, it is just a matter of informing them of what cloud technology is all about; and how it is already being used for a myriad of reasons. Once they are aware, the fear of the unknown may dissipate.

Whatever the case may be, the reluctance by some IT professionals, organisations, and end users will most likely dissipate over time as they overcome their resistance to this new technology. The benefits of using the cloud far outweigh the disadvantages; and as an awareness of this fact grows, so will the number of users of the cloud. Therefore, the cloud has a bright future.

Smartphones and the Cloud – A Marriage Made in Heaven

Smartphones and other hand held devices and the cloud were made for each other. In fact, one of the advantages of the cloud is its ability to make hand held devices even more useful and efficient. The mobility of such mobile devices and the capacity of cloud storage are a marriage made in heaven.

There are a variety of ways in which the cloud can maximise the effectiveness of hand held devices. Smartphone users are constantly on the move, but the cloud is static, and can be accessed anytime — whenever; and wherever the user is. The cloud provides the mobile user with a home base for their data while they are on the road as they can connect directly to a remote service to upload or download information. Data can be accessed immediately whenever and wherever it is needed. All the mobility user needs is a mobile device and Internet connectivity, which will make it possible for them to access a cloud based service, and retrieve and/or upload their data. It is simple, effective and efficient.

The beauty of this system is that no middleman is required for the user to access their data. Nor do they require expert technical expertise to manage and backup or access their data. They can make the connection on their own because agentless cloud backup systems — such as our software, powered by Asigra — allow their mobile devices to connect to the cloud based network.

The cloud’s limitless storage makes it possible for smartphone users to store an unlimited amount of data without ever having to worry. Important files can be stored and accessed when needed and wherever they happen to be. Thanks to the cloud, a smartphone can become an even more useful business tool. Important documents can be accessed instantaneously. Frequent business travellers can travel light, needing only to bring their smartphone with them and storing important documents in the cloud. Knowing that their important documents are safely stored in the cloud, ready to access whenever they need them will give them peace of mind while they are on the road.

These days mobile workers are everywhere, travelling all across the globe with their hand held and portable devices. They need to be able to report back to their parent companies and send or share data with them that is easily accessible. The cloud makes it easier for them to collect and share data with their company.

Smartphones have made each employee of an enterprise on a short leash, and in the process that has transformed relationships with bosses, clients, family members, and others who reach out to the mobile worker. Millions of apps have also been developed that can make the mobile worker’s life very productive.

The next time you hit the road for business, make sure that you take your smartphone or handheld device with you. These hand held phone are called smartphones for a reason!

Should Healthcare Professionals and Healthcare Service Providers Use the Cloud for Storing Patient Data?

Historically, healthcare professionals and healthcare service providers stored their patients records the old fashioned way — on paper in brown folders. With the advent of computer technology, they had the option of storing their patients sensitive medical information in a local computer file as well as the old fashioned way. Today, thanks to cloud computing and data storage services, they can store their patients data in the cloud.

If a healthcare professional chooses to store their patients data in a computer program, the data could be lost if the computer system crashed, stolen or caught fire. If there is no paper backup, the sensitive and critical patient information could be lost forever. This is never an issue if sensitive medical data is stored in the cloud.

Storing patients data in the cloud has many benefits for healthcare professionals; including anytime, anywhere access, scalable storage, compliant, easy and affordable.
For example, cloud storage is flexible, allowing the health professional to scale up or down based on demand for storing patients records. In the past, healthcare professionals and service providers had to constantly acquire additional storage space for their patients records the old fashion way by buying physical folders, hard drives and/or upgrading the computer systems. This is inefficient and time consuming.

Cloud storage services that cater for the healthcare industry must have passed compliance requirements. HIPAA that came into effect in 1996 stipulates that patients’ data can never be lost or compromised under any circumstances. To comply with HIPAA, SEC, Sarbanes-Oxley and more, vendors have come up with innovative ways to secure data and fulfil compliance requirements by encrypting and backing up data to redundant geo-locations.

In addition, cloud computing can save the healthcare professional, healthcare service provider, and the patient some money by reducing the costs of maintaining IT infrastructure and software. It also saves money because capital intensive hardware no longer needs to be purchased, and could result in insurance premium savings, as well.
The portability of having patients records stored in the cloud means that healthcare professionals can review the records of their patients wherever they are at anytime. In addition, having information stored in the cloud, it also gives them piece of mind that valuable and irreplaceable patient information will never be lost.

Cloud computing can save healthcare professionals both time and money and can also help them become more efficient in the delivery of service to their patients. It is important to take your time and evaluate any cloud storage service and perform a due diligence by thoroughly testing the vendors for compliance and security before you sign up for the service.

Should the Cloud be Standardised?

Today, the cloud is not standardised. Companies operate in the cloud under different criteria. Basically, they all do their own thing without regard to what their competitors or other related companies do. Is this an effective strategy or does this lack of standardisation adversely affect the end user? If so, what can be done to streamline and harmonise the activities of cloud vendors?

Presently, we are seeing a plethora of cloud based vendors offering a variety of services ranging from financial management services, video applications, data storage and archiving, email hosting, and many other services. The cloud also allows businesses and individuals to have a virtual office, sharing and storing documents in a cost effective and time efficient manner. This is a boon for anyone wanting to do business more efficiently and cost effectively. However, cloud based vendors currently operate in a vacuum, and as a result, there are some challenges inherent in cloud computing that could be positively affected if the industry was standardised.

For example, portability, moving data from one cloud vendor to another or sharing data between cloud companies is a major impediment to more effective cloud computing. Terminating an agreement with one cloud company and moving one’s data to another vendor is another related problem. In some instances, sharing data between cloud companies has become a major issue for the end user. Such issues need to be addressed and rectified. Standardising the industry could provide a possible solution to this problem and could also have the effect of making cloud collaboration easier. Standardisation would also have the added benefit of attracting more customers to cloud based companies who would feel more confident doing business in the cloud.

Standard service agreements could also be worked out in the industry for the benefit of the end user. These agreements would ensure a seamless service, allowing the user to easily compare technologies. Data can also be migrated from cloud to cloud and files can be shared easily. In addition, as standardisation is adopted, cloud services will be able to support multi-platform technologies by default, including the latest operating systems, mobile devices, and more.

Industry wide standards could be adopted regarding these issues and could be spelled out in their service level agreements. This would ultimately benefit both the end user and the cloud computing industry.

There is a growing awareness that standardisation could lead to a more efficient and productive cloud computing industry. In fact, there are a variety of organisations that are leading the charge to standardisation. However, a lack of a cohesive strategy to standardise the industry puts it at a disadvantage. The sooner the industry addresses this issue, the better.

Privacy and the Cloud

Computing in the cloud, like any developing technology, brings up a number of issues and challenges. Storing data and computing in the cloud is a great technological advancement. However, there are many ways our data and privacy could be compromised in the cloud. What can we do to ensure that our data is protected and our privacy is not compromised?

End user’s security and privacy could be compromised in the cloud, for instance, when files and folders are infected with a virus. The cloud vendor must, therefore, ensure that its servers are not vulnerable to infections and that safeguards are in place to ensure that infections do not occur. However, in the event infection occurs, what will the cloud vendor do to rectify the situation? How will they retrieve data if it is lost or compromised? Perhaps, these kinds of issues can be described in the provider’s service level agreement (SLA) to ensure their customers that they are proactive about such issues and are willing to take action if something goes awry.

Another troubling issue in the cloud is identity theft, which can result as a result of Phishing. What is the cloud vendor doing to ensure that their client’s identity is safe? How are they educating their clients to prevent this from occurring? Phishing is a major problem that cloud vendors must be cognisant of as unscrupulous people find ways of stealing the identity of others in order to access sensitive information, like online banking credentials. This could be disastrous for a customer, and cloud vendors must ensure that proper safeguards are in place and do whatever they can to protect their clients.

Another security issue can occur if the service provider’s software is defective. You need to make sure that the software actually does what it claims by testing the service before you sign up; and also you need to perform regular tests as you go along. Defective software can result in a loss of data and money. The data owner needs to have clarity among other things, as to who can access the data. This is an important security protocol that needs to be addressed with the cloud vendor.

A simple solution to many of these and other related security and privacy issues is education and communication. Cloud vendors need to effectively communicate the dangers of some of these issues to their clients in a clear and comprehensive manner. They should be outlined in the company’s service level agreements (SLAs) and every possible effort should be made to inform their clients of the implications if they don’t take the proper steps to ensure their privacy when doing business in the cloud.

The cloud is a two way street. Cloud vendors and their clients must work together and be vigilant to ensure their data and/or privacy is not compromised.

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