Changes Coming to Online Storage
One of the big cloud technologies to filter down to the consumer level in the past year has been online storage. Services like Dropbox are adding thousands of members a day. Even Apple, after two previous failed attempts, seems to have found a successful online storage product in iCloud. Like other areas of the cloud, though, online storage is still maturing.
Here are some of the significant changes we’re likely to see in the online storage industry over the next few years:
- Increased value-added services for small and medium-sized businesses. We’re already starting to see some of this with online storage providers like Box.net. Add-on services like project management integration and change tracking are already being offered; integration with other business workflow processes will surely be coming.
- Expanded multimedia focus. It’s one thing to be able to access your documents or spreadsheets from anywhere via an online storage service; it’s quite another to be able to access your entire library of movies in that same fashion. As services expand to allow for greater and greater capacity, we’ll probably see integration with digital content providers (such as those providing digital movies) with online storage. Apple’s iCloud already hints at this capability with audio files.
- Greater capacity. As the technology changes, so will the capacity that’s offered by online storage providers. Today, Dropbox offers 2 GB of storage for their free plan. Monthly service plans will allow for much greater capacity (currently about $10 per month for 50 GB, and $20 per month for 100 GB). It’s likely that those tiers of service will scale up over the next several years.
- Third parties vs. big brands. Apple’s been trying to get into the cloud game for some time now; iCloud represents its first success. Meanwhile, Google continues to offer Google docs, which has had a relatively lukewarm reception overall. It’s the third parties that have really taken the online storage world by storm, largely because the big brands offer minimal or no support for cross-platform use. If Apple or Google decide that it’s time to offer their services in a more standards-based or widespread way, they could overtake the online storage marketplace.
- Security will continue to be a concern. Issues like compliance and privacy are big concerns with online storage, and that’s not going away. For example, when a legal firm uses an online storage system to keep client information, they have to be sure that the system is secure in a number of specific ways. Concerns about compliance will keep driving the security issue in online storage for some time.
- Online storage may be a gateway to other cloud services. Consumers have been using the cloud for email for years, in the form of web-based email providers like Hotmail and Gmail. Online storage is the next cloud service to take hold, but we can assume that many others are right behind it.
Contribution By Eric Greenwood
Online storage is still growing into its skin, and it will take several more years for many of its implications to work out. The online storage world may look very different in 5 or even 3 years, based on these trends. Eric Greenwood is a technophile whose interests have lead him to study aspects from the cloud computing movement such as software as a service and online storage. Get more tips and advice on the blog Online Storage!