Hybrid cloud offers lesson in data privacy

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Pictures are memories of your life: births, weddings, vacations and many other occasions. Many of us put these pictures on Facebook or in cloud storage. Many of us put our photos in public clouds and do not even know it. The recent news of celebrities who had compromising photos stolen and exposed to the public may have come as no big surprise to some. Sure, it may be easy to think this happens only to celebrities, but it can happen to anyone.

Privacy is phenomenally important for us all, especially a celebrity whose public life is constantly in the spotlight. But life is a trade-off between conflicting needs, much like public cloud and private cloud. Can anyone enjoy the public spotlight without sacrificing his or her private life? Yes, and that is the analogy of the hybrid cloud. Celebrities can have a hybrid life moment. What a great idea! This is one of those moments that you see life imitating technology and technology imitating life.

Public cloud assumes public trust

computer and social media icons blue backgroundsBack in the days of the SLR camera and film, you dropped the film at a store to develop pictures. You trusted that the darkroom technicians worked as professionals who didn’t care to look at your pictures. The truth is that they could if they wanted to. Celebrities probably had their own photographer and darkroom so that they could have private moments and take all the pictures they wanted without being surrounded by paparazzi.

Now everyone carries a smartphone and snaps pictures everywhere. High resolution photos and videos gobble up valuable storage space in a phone. Being able to store those items somewhere other than your phone is attractive, and it can also be convenient because WiFi and data connections are everywhere. And, storage is often offered at no charge with an online account, which seems to be secure with a user ID and password.

Think again; the password is probably the only thing keeping those pictures private.

Private cloud locks up data

When I finally switched to a digital camera over ten years ago, there was no online or cloud storage. I bought a spare SD media card to bring with me. Then, I bought one “gigantic” external hard drive with the capacity of 1 TB. The drive was only connected to the computer when I needed to off-load pictures from the camera. The computer did not have an Internet connection, either. If friends and relatives wanted to see my pictures, they had to sit in front of my computer.

In a similar scenario with cloud computing, private cloud keeps all your data under your control. If someone else wants to access it, they need to be in the private network. That means the data is isolated from external networks. For your data, it is simple and secured solution.

If you are a technical person, see this developerWorks article for advantages of and options for private cloud computing. You can also explore IBM Private Modular Cloud.

The scenario I described is a bit inconvenient for other people wanting to see your photos. What are the alternatives today? I could upload all my pictures to cloud storage, but that is not for me!

How about the camera? I can show the pictures to anyone. Some cameras can even be hooked up to a big screen for showing off the pictures. They only see the pictures I want them to see. When I come home, all the pictures go off to the picture vault. The external hard drive and computer make up my system of records. This system has only one end connection, meaning that only the system of record will have access.

Systems of engagement

The camera is a system of engagement: a device for taking pictures anywhere. The pictures are only there temporarily. You carry a camera in the public. If someone steals your camera, only those pictures are lost. There is no information about your computer or hard drive in the camera. This is the key for a system of records.

Now you can apply this system of engagement to those online storage sites. Just keep in mind that these devices are for serving the temporary moments. The app Snapchat is one example. You share a photo and after a short time, it disappears. You might still wonder if it really does, though.

Demand for hybrid cloud

If you really need to store all of your pictures online, make sure the provider has a strict security policy in place, much like hybrid cloud providers. And personal pictures are just examples. The ways cloud computing and technology work, we can all have a variety of files stored online. Banking is another example. The banks must have used the hybrid cloud concepts from day one, since they provide online or mobile access to customer banking records.

It seems so simple. To deposit a check, you use your smartphone to take a snapshot of the check. Can you guess which system the image of the check is sent to and stored? It is the system of engagement, of course. It is more complicated when you access your personal account from a web browser. Your requests for transactions mostly are not real time. Again, a password is the key to your privacy. Would you prefer to use a fingerprint device instead? Look for this solution in the near future.

The future belongs to dynamic private and hybrid cloud. How about that hybrid life idea? Hopefully you already figured that out by now. If not, drop me a comment or catch me on Twitter @ThanhLamV.

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