Author Archives: Jeff Norman

A Round Of Applause For Google Drive

A Round Of Applause For Google Drive

A Round of Applause for Google Drive

Just as iCloud is cresting in popularity and trending well with its users, Google has flown in, to upstage Apple, to steal its thunder, to stop the show — insert your own “oh no they didn’t” cliché here. Bottom line: Google has taken quite the inviting Drive into the competitive, and increasingly crowded, cloud computing sphere.

The latest expansion of the Google brand looks upward into the cloud. Deemed Google Drive, this new service from the world’s most powerful Internet organization will provide users with five gigabytes’ (5GB) worth of storage and backup space in the cloud, without costing its users a penny. Should a user like to have even more space, Google Drive makes it available (up to 25 GB in total) for an extremely reasonable and attractive fee — just $2.50 a month.cloud humor

Previous cloud titans Apple and Microsoft are likely sweating in their boots right about now. What was once their almost exclusive turf has been partially co-opted by Google, whose brand name appeal will undoubtedly lure an wave of users of possibly unprecedented magnitude.

What features will drive this horde of Google fans to Drive’s site? One nifty feature is the capacity to instantly create spreadsheets, presentations, and other such documents on which the activities and edits of multiple participants are immediately and seamlessly synchronized. Additionally, it syncs beautifully with virtually every app out there.

Hefty e-mail attachments via Gmail are a thing of the past; sending a link via Google Drive to recipients distributes the document(s) without wasted space. Drive’s cloud also automatically uploads Google+ users’ vids and pictures. Furthermore, Drive revolutionizes internet search procedure, as it recognizes objects in images and text from scanned documents.

As the incredibly bulging cherry on top of Google’s cloud cake, Drive accommodates more than thirty types of files, from high definition videos to Photoshop. The clincher: you don’t even need to have installed the programs associated with such files on your computer for Drive to manage them. Bravo, Google, Bravo.

And yet Drive’s delights for users drive on further still — back in time. Google’s cloud surveys your every alteration made to every document you handle, allowing you to head backwards — up to thirty days — to save in a flash, or cherry-pick a revision to save for always.

From our (VERY) cursory review, Google Drive seems to answer many cloud computing prayers. Questions still remain, however. Weren’t Gmail and Google Docs the company’s first forays into the cloud? How will the new kid Drive harmonize with its older siblings? And most importantly: what security and data protection measures will Drive take to safeguard users’ information?

As we wait for the answers to these, we’ll keep basking in what seems like a delicious Drive, which seems to make a confection of the cloud.

By Jeff Norman

Healthcare In The Cloud: Good And Bad And Around The World

Healthcare in the Cloud: Good and Bad and Around the World

What field isn’t the cloud revolutionizing right now? From music to entrepreneurship, virtually every relevant sector is capitalizing on some aspect of the cloud in order to improve efficiency and — one hopes as a byproduct — creativity as well. Healthcare is not immune to the effects of cloud, either. The data storage concept is equipping the field to streamline and adapt to modern medicine. However, cloud’s advantages to healthcare come with both a good and bad side.

Let’s start with the good news: cloud computing is set to potentially renovate the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. Medical focused organizations stand to profit immensely, in both time and money, from the cloud’s nifty capacity of conveniently storing data elsewhere. Hospitals worldwide are eager to adopt the technology and improve their efficiency.

Now for the bad news: developed countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, will likely see little to none of this growth — at least for a while. The economic recession has made it much less attractive for cloud computing companies to invest in such big markets at these, which now concentrate on slashing budgets and spending conservatively.

Instead, cloud suppliers are focusing their efforts on up-and-coming economic climates, like those that continue to steadily grow in India and Taiwan, which are a bit more accepting of a promising yet radical concept as cloud. Speaking of India, the country so deeply believes in cloud computing that the state has actually taken ownership of a company, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (or BSNL), that has recently launched cloud data centers for healthcare in six cities nationwide, including Mumbai and Jaipur. This news couples with a boom in the number of cloud companies that specialize in storing Electronic Medical Records for hospitals, as indicated by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information.

For the pharmaceutical sector, professional opinion on the cloud’s potential helpfulness for research and development has skyrocketed. In biology, for instance, cloud computing seems like an advantageous method of managing a boon in data resulting from deeper scholarship in DNA sequencing. Completing sets of data in such an enormous endeavor generates entirely too much data for one computer to hold. Enter the cloud, which not only houses that data, but also frees up researchers to conduct more expansive clinical trials and communicate more effectively with others in the same (or a disparate but still relevant) field.

By Jeff Norman

The Cloud Gets Green

The Cloud Gets Green

We are all, at this point, at least fairly well aware of cloud computing’s capacity to slash wasted time and spending for both homes and businesses. But many of us are now wondering if this significant boost in economy and efficiency could potentially translate into an environmental advantage. For the fourth year running, technology products vendor CDW has staged a report that investigates if the cloud can actually make good on its green promises. Its Energy Efficient IT Report this year says much to corroborate the understanding that cloud computing can make a positive, potentially sustainable difference.

The professional opinions of 760 individuals involved in businesses, nonprofits, government, and education comprised the bulk of the CDW’s report. It found that more than 60 percent of those surveyed believed that cloud computing could present a significant benefit to improving the energy efficiency of data centers. In 2010, just about half of those who responded agreed with this statement.

What about the cloud might make it such a green goodie two shoes? Its environmental charm lies in how cloud computing uses virtual means to store data, as opposed to physical resources from the earth (like paper, coal, ink, et cetera). Storing data on the cloud can mean a potential reduction in emissions and conservation of Earth’s raw materials — both beneficial to the planet.

But thus far, the cloud’s green assets remain inspiring conjecture; we are still not sure of exactly how, and how much, cloud computing can offer by way of sustainability. Those who responded to the CDW’s survey estimate that the cloud can reduce the use of energy by nearly 30 percent. (This figure more specifically pertains to virtualized servers and / or storage). Also cementing the current truth of a “green cloud” as theory, and not yet actuality, is that one third of those surveyed reported that the environment weighs heavily on their head when considering cloud products to purchase.

The biggest hurdle the cloud faces in fulfilling its green potential is the same challenge it encounters in terms of its popularity with the masses — getting the word out. Though a CDW-like survey has not been carried out to measure the general public’s regard of the cloud, it’s a safe bet that the majority of Americans are still not quite sure what to make of this cloud talk. Coupled with equally little (yet increasing) knowledge on being green, the conversation on cloud and sustainability needs to reach a fever pitch before it can be capitalized on.

By Jeff Norman

Will Facebook Halt Instagram’s Gratification To The Cloud?

Will Facebook Halt Instagram’s Gratification to the Cloud?

I’m sure that by now you’ve heard the news that Facebook has purchased Instagram. Even bigger concern for us cloud aficionados has recently been made news by Data Center Knowledge, one of Instagram’s place in the cloud. Will Facebook scoop it up from its roots there, or will the social network behemoth mercifully allow it to stay? Assuming you haven’t yet been made abreast of this news, allow me to contextualize all of this for you.

Instagram might indeed be the world’s most popular cloud application. Established in the fall of 2010, this app is a photo exchange service which adheres more or less to the following process: an owner of an iPhone (and, just recently, an Android smartphone) takes a picture through the app; the signature Instagram hipster filter and square shape is applied to that photo; that photo is then disseminated to every major social network — Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr — and now, Instagram’s own eponymous network as well.

By the end of 2010, more than one million users were Instagramming every image they could possibly snap. Six months later, Instagram’s population of users quintupled. The application earned awards at a rapid pace, including such major commendations as the 2011 App of the Year award from Apple. Fast forward to today — April 2012 — when 30 million Instagram users made the application, and its cultural impact, impossible for a certain Facebook to resist.

Five days ago — April 12 — Facebook made its crush on Instagram public by purchasing the application for $1 billion, totaled from both stock and cash, about 25% of the Zuckerberg darling’s total coffers in 2011. Compared with the $35 million that Yahoo! spent on Flickr, a rival photo-share network, Facebook’s romantically large gesture took many tech experts aback, striking them as exorbitant and groundless. Zuckerberg has clarified that such a grand purchase is highly unlikely to occur again, and he is more or less a genius, so my bet is that Facebook’s top dog foresaw buying Instagram as a shrewd move for the long haul.

One extremely important Instagram issue continues to hold the tech community rapt: the fate of the application’s cloud status. Run on Amazon Web Service’s EC2 Compute Cloud, Instagram definitely ranks as one of cloud computing’s most successful and exemplary products. Will Facebook nevertheless decide to refit its infrastructure into their own offices? Only time can tell.

By Jeff Norman

The Cloud Sees Small Businesses Soar

The Cloud Sees Small Businesses Soar

The first quarter of 2012 has resulted in a significant growth in the recognition of the advantages cloud computing is providing to small businesses. For those outside of the know, we provide a brief overview of just why cloud is good to SMBs.

How does cloud computing empower my small business?

How long do you have to visit this site? We could literally fill an entire day with the bounty of assets the cloud can provide to shrewd and ambitious small businesses. For one thing, you’ll spend a great deal less on your expenses via cloud technology; it costs less money to buy space in the cloud than it would to purchase hefty, physical servers or other pieces of hardware.

There is no interdependency of platforms either with the cloud; programs such as Dropbox, IFTTT and GoogleDocs don’t care if you open your files alternately on your MacBook Pro, your friend’s Gateway, or your Droid Max RAZR. Another plus of the cloud is the seriously small amount of know-how it requires to get started.

At the outset, you’ll probably be able to manage the software all by your lonesome. This isn’t to say you won’t eventually grow to a situation that would benefit from a credentialed tech pro. But what an advantage — monetarily and practically — to get started right away, with such ease of use to boot.

How can cloud computing help me compete against bigger establishments?

Think of the cloud as a Great Equalizer; anything the big boys do, you can do at least as well, when liberated and bolstered by what cloud computing offers. In general, cloud enables small businesses to scale up in terms of their capacities, without having to spend exorbitantly in order to do so. Compared to the other types of resources small businesses could employ to arm themselves, cloud computing is actually safer and more reliable. Best of all, cloud allows SMBs to function at the level of a well oiled entrprise, particularly in terms of maintenance and growth.

How are today’s small businesses interacting with the cloud?

Experts believe that more than 80% of all businesses, including little guys, have incorporated at least one cloud application into their daily affairs, while three-quarters of small business owners report a savings of nearly 25%, thanks to cloud computing products. (These stats were derived from The CDW 2011 Cloud Computing Tracking Poll.) Apparently, small businesses are thriving on the boom in productiveness. They still have to be on guard for the security of their data (i.e., avoiding untested WiFi networks to access cloud-stored info), but savvy use of the cloud more than makes up for these quibbles by granting SMBs the chance to stand eye-to-eye with the toughies.

By Jeff Norman

The Social Cloud: Twitter’s Top Cloud Titans

The Social Cloud: Twitter’s Top Cloud Titans

It’s fair to say that a sizable percentage of cloud-savvy folk maintain active social networking profiles, one of which being an account on mega microblogging titan Twitter. Facebook may tout a larger membership, but few social networks (besides, perhaps, Pinterest) can brag of as compellingly quick growth as that cute little blue bird mid-song.

Twitter’s popularity stems from two of its manifold assets: the ability to receive news before the press or media, and the democratization of users (i.e., even Joe Schmo from Saskatchewan can tweet with Justin Bieber, albeit not necessarily mutually). Cloud nerds can capitalize on these advantages to not only stuff their brains to the brim with breaking cloud news, but also interact with cloud computing’s powers that be.

So who should you be following on Twitter right now? Every account that we’ll list for you below.

Let’s start with arguably the most important cloud all-star to follow: @CloudTweaks! That’s right, yours truly tweets relevant, unique, timely, and valuable cloud content throughout the day — an exceptional way to manage cloud computing headlines, opinions, and passion.

Here are a few other great accounts that deserve your follow a.s.a.p.:

Kevin Jackson (@Kevin_Jackson). For the best coverage of cloud computing via the federal government, Mr. Jackson demands a follow. He helms the popular blog Cloud Musings when not tweeting about how the cloud floats in and out of the public sector.

Jeff Barr (@JeffBarr). This “Amazon Web Services evangelist” earns his followers’ loyalty with impactful tweets on the cloud. After all, being Amazon.com’s Senior Manager of Cloud Computing Solutions, he’d know a thing or two, at least.

Adria Richards (@AdriaRichards).But You’re A Girl,” Ms. Richards often hears from someone shocked by the depths of her cloud computing expertise. Rather than fret, she turned that phrase of surprise into her own website, which she maintains when not contributing masterfully to Twitter’s cloud conversation.

David Linthicum (@DavidLinthicum). Having played a part in penning a baker’s dozen worth of books on cloud computing immediately distinguishes Mr. Linthicum as a must-follow. More than 7500 current followers continue to relish his cloud tweet wisdom.

James Urquhart (@JamesUrquhart). Authoring “The Wisdom of Clouds” quickly vaulted Mr. Urquhart to the vanguard of cloud computing expertise and helpfulness. We love the interactive feel of his Twitter page: of course you’ll find tweets containing meaningful links, but he’ll also regularly retweet or reply to his followers’ thoughts in turn.

By Jeff Norman

Terry Bradshaw, Welcome To The Cloud

Terry Bradshaw, Welcome To The Cloud

Terry Bradshaw, Welcome to the Cloud

Why is Terry Bradshaw, a well-regarded yet far too publicized football legend, interloping into the cloud computing community? I understand that he is a jack of all trades, from the gridiron to the grocery store (he’s recently represented the wonders of the Nutrisystem diet plan). But the cloud? Seriously, what could this venerable figure know about the most important wave of technology to hit us this decade?

To be sure, Terry’s hosting of this program is not the first instance of the cloud commiserating with the silver screen. Television companies as prosperous as ABC, Netflix, Paramount, MGM, and — of course — Hulu have actually exploited cloud’s potential to maximize viewership of their small-screen programming for a few years now. Cloud computing enables these companies to place hot TV programs like “Desperate Housewives” or “New Girl” online for customers to view at any time, interspersing the content with ready-to-go commercials. The figures on viewership for online television via the cloud are staggering: a spike of at least 70 percent was reported as recently as 2008.

Apparently, Mr. Bradshaw is savvy enough to be hosting a television program dedicated to cloud computing. Called “Today in America,” this local Florida TV show will concentrate on the ways in which cloud has slowly but surely pervaded public opinion. And who better to host it all than good-ol’-boy Bradshaw, whose sunny mien should beam bright enough to sway even tech skeptics to the brighter side of the cloud.

Another merging of cloud computing and television has actually taken place online, through the regularly streamed broadcasts of Cloud Cover TV. The weekly program dispenses info on news relating to cloud computing, focusing on such issues as how Dropbox relates to its competitors, and also on how cloud computing is faring in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, not all cloud-television unions turn out to be so congenial. In fact, some corners hold that the cloud could eventually push television out completely as a prime way to access entertainment, news, and more.

Bernard Cohen, of CIO, recently wrote an article discussing the threat cloud computing posed to the future of television. “If I can download shows at my convenience from services like Hulu or Netflix,” he wondered, “why do I need a local TV station between me and my content?”

The cloud is, yet again, dismantling a channel of access for entertainment. One way or another, TV will have to either cede to cloud computing, or enlist with it and adapt to its empowerment of TV’s most desired quantity — viewers like you.

By Jeff Norman

Could Cloud Computing Cause More Stress Come Tax Time?

Could Cloud Computing Cause More Stress Come Tax Time?

Money doesn’t grow on trees. Nothing under the sun is free. Aphorisms like these saw concepts such as cloud computing escape from the reality of high cost and taxation — until now. The cloud community is up in arms at what’s recently taken place in Vermont, where an extremely suspicious and cryptic financial technicality has resulted in a wave of tax audits that could set precedents for cloud computing endeavors in other states.

The Department of Taxes in the State of Vermont released a bulletin in 2010 claiming that “prewritten software that is licensed for use and available from a remote server” would be subjected to sales and use taxes. Despite the existence of this technical law, the State remained mum on enforcing it — that is, until cloud computing suddenly became en vogue, via greater visibility and use in the business community.

Scores of Vermont businesses who had used cloud computing to some extent suddenly found themselves saddles with bills for back taxes stemming from this boutique tax loophole retroactively invoked with convenient timeliness. After a wave of publicity regarding this fiasco (including a major write-up in Forbes), the State’s House Ways and Means Committee passed a bill that would refund nearly $2 million that was seized by that same 2010 cloud computing tax.

Yet Vermont business owners refused to be satisfied with this palpable yet paltry mea culpa. They’re fighting for a cloud sales tax exemption, a request to which lawmakers have yet to concede. Although this Vermont issue may seem petty to some corners, the resolution of this cloud-versus-taxes conversation will set the precedent for similar happenings around the country.

A similar law advocating a cloud computing tax is taking shape in Utah. Colorado, too, is mired in the same discussion; its “stool pigeon requirement,” or a state-enforced demand that online businesses contact their customers to inform them of their sales tax dues, is also a heated issue. Most alarming is what’s happening in Texas, where a governmental committee has already formed to ascertain how the state could benefit from taxation to the cloud.

Unfortunately for the cloud computing community, taxation is a conversation of “when,” not “if.” Although the particular methods and means of a “cloud tax” would have to be specified and nuanced according to the demands of a unique state, there’s little chance that our economy-addled nation would ignore this tech gem that we’d like to keep secret from the feds. Companies that sprawl nationwide, or internationally, like IBM, will weather these taxes fine. It’s the small businesses out there who could be undone should the cloud tax weigh too heavily over their heads.

By Jeff Norman

CloudTweaks Comics
Infographic Introduction – Benefits of Cloud Computing

Infographic Introduction – Benefits of Cloud Computing

Benefits of Cloud Computing Based on Aberdeen Group’s Computer Intelligence Dataset, there are more than 1.6 billion permutations to choose from when it comes to cloud computing solutions. So what, on the face of it, appears to be pretty simple is actually both complex and dynamic regardless of whether you’re in the market for networking,…

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

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Report: Enterprise Cloud Computing Moves Into Mature Growth Phase

Report: Enterprise Cloud Computing Moves Into Mature Growth Phase

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Infographic: The Evolving Internet of Things

Infographic: The Evolving Internet of Things

Evolving Internet of Things  The Internet of Things, or IoT, a term devised in 1999 by British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton, represents the connection of physical devices, systems and services via the internet, and Gartner and Lucas Blake’s new infographic (below) explores the evolution of the IoT industry, investigating its potential impact across just about every…

4 Different Types of Attacks – Understanding the “Insider Threat”

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A New CCTV Nightmare: Botnets And DDoS attacks

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The Cloud Is Not Enough! Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions

The Cloud Is Not Enough! Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions

Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions Running a cloud server is no longer the novel trend it once was. Now, the cloud is a necessary data tier that allows employees to access vital company data and maintain productivity from anywhere in the world. But it isn’t a perfect system — security and performance issues can quickly…

The Industries That The Cloud Will Change The Most

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Cloud Infographic: The Future of File Storage

Cloud Infographic: The Future of File Storage

 The Future of File Storage A multi-billion dollar market Data storage has been readily increasing for decades. In 1989, an 8MB Macintosh Portable was top of the range; in 2006, the Dell Inspiron 6400 became available, boasting 160GB; and now, we have the ‘Next Generation’ MacBook Pro with 256GB of storage built in. But, of course,…

Cloud Infographic – Cloud Public, Private & Hybrid Differences

Cloud Infographic – Cloud Public, Private & Hybrid Differences

Cloud Public, Private & Hybrid Differences Many people have heard of cloud computing. There is however a tremendous number of people who still cannot differentiate between Public, Private & Hybrid cloud offerings.  Here is an excellent infographic provided by the group at iWeb which goes into greater detail on this subject. Infographic source: iWeb

How To Humanize Your Data (And Why You Need To)

How To Humanize Your Data (And Why You Need To)

How To Humanize Your Data The modern enterprise is digital. It relies on accurate and timely data to support the information and process needs of its workforce and its customers. However, data suffers from a likability crisis. It’s as essential to us as oxygen, but because we don’t see it, we take it for granted.…

Why Security Practitioners Need To Apply The 80-20 Rules To Data Security

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The 80-20 Rule For Security Practitioners  Everyday we learn about yet another egregious data security breach, exposure of customer data or misuse of data. It begs the question why in this 21st century, as a security industry we cannot seem to secure our most valuable data assets when technology has surpassed our expectations in other regards.…

Four Recurring Revenue Imperatives

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Revenue Imperatives “Follow the money” is always a good piece of advice, but in today’s recurring revenue-driven market, “follow the customer” may be more powerful. Two recurring revenue imperatives highlight the importance of responding to, and cherishing customer interactions. Technology and competitive advantage influence the final two. If you’re part of the movement towards recurring…

How The CFAA Ruling Affects Individuals And Password-Sharing

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Individuals and Password-Sharing With the 1980s came the explosion of computing. In 1980, the Commodore ushered in the advent of home computing. Time magazine declared 1982 was “The Year of the Computer.” By 1983, there were an estimated 10 million personal computers in the United States alone. As soon as computers became popular, the federal government…

How To Overcome Data Insecurity In The Cloud

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Data Insecurity In The Cloud Today’s escalating attacks, vulnerabilities, breaches, and losses have cut deeply across organizations and captured the attention of, regulators, investors and most importantly customers. In many cases such incidents have completely eroded customer trust in a company, its services and its employees. The challenge of ensuring data security is far more…

Don’t Be Intimidated By Data Governance

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Data Governance Data governance, the understanding of the raw data of an organization is an area IT departments have historically viewed as a lose-lose proposition. Not doing anything means organizations run the risk of data loss, data breaches and data anarchy – no control, no oversight – the Wild West with IT is just hoping…

5 Things To Consider About Your Next Enterprise Sharing Solution

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Enterprise File Sharing Solution Businesses have varying file sharing needs. Large, multi-regional businesses need to synchronize folders across a large number of sites, whereas small businesses may only need to support a handful of users in a single site. Construction or advertising firms require sharing and collaboration with very large (several Gigabytes) files. Financial services…

Virtual Immersion And The Extension/Expansion Of Virtual Reality

Virtual Immersion And The Extension/Expansion Of Virtual Reality

Virtual Immersion And Virtual Reality This is a term I created (Virtual Immersion). Ah…the sweet smell of Virtual Immersion Success! Virtual Immersion© (VI) an extension/expansion of Virtual Reality to include the senses beyond visual and auditory. Years ago there was a television commercial for a bathing product called Calgon. The tagline of the commercial was Calgon…

The Security Gap: What Is Your Core Strength?

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The Security Gap You’re out of your mind if you think blocking access to file sharing services is filling a security gap. You’re out of your mind if you think making people jump through hoops like Citrix and VPNs to get at content is secure. You’re out of your mind if you think putting your…