David in the cloud
Day-to-day use of cloud technologies
Raises questions and concerns for the average consumer
By David Ross
Living and working with cloud technologies, I see presentations from executives, sales professionals, service folks, and my immediate colleagues. I look at implementation plans and understand the benefits to moving infrastructure, services, processes and storage to cloud environments. I also see the challenges that cloud can present. In working with some of Tivoli's cloud products, I experience first-hand things that might affect customers as I deal with as-yet-unfixed bugs in pre-release versions and explore new features and improvements. Along the way, I map out use cases for developing the training that will make the products more meaningful to those using them, develop exercises and materials, and create image sets for delivering the training. My work in technical enablement provides a rich exposure to Tivoli's products and what they can do for companies and customers.
However, for me – father / husband / geek / “private individual” – cloud takes on a different context altogether. My interactions and use of the cloud as an outsider are far different than how I view things from a work perspective.
My role in cloud places me as a “tweener”. I am not the typical end-user of cloud, since I do have more insight than most to what makes cloud work. On the other hand, I am happy to be a standard consumer of cloud technologies when it makes sense to do so.
I know I use cloud often without realizing it. For example, when I view a Netflix video, I know that I am taking advantage of Amazon's cloud - all of Netflix video streams are handled there. I'm sure other outlets use a cloud as well. I order from Amazon and eBay from time to time, and there are others: iCloud, Google Apps, Google Drive, Amazon Web Services, Cloud Foundry, Windows Azure, and the list grows almost daily.
I use cloud primarily for storage. I moved many of my files to Google Docs, now Google Drive, a few years ago. I enjoy the ease of access from just about anywhere there is a browser. I also use Dropbox and Sugar Sync with different organizations with which I interact regularly outside of my work. From time to time, I explore other providers, and each has advantages and disadvantages.
Many benefits of cloud appeal to me: ease of access from multiple locations or devices, automated (in most cases) synchronization of files to the cloud, low cost (often free), and the comfort of knowing that my data files are usually in at least two places: one or more local devices and some server somewhere else on the planet.
It is the “some server somewhere” that makes me cautious. I know there are agreements and I know that cloud storage providers are geared to making sure that my data files are safe and accessible. A storage provider that fails to do so will not last long. Yet, if that happens while MY stuff is there, what becomes of my files?
Is cloud computing safe? Absolutely, if the proper protocols and processes are in place, and are diligently followed by everyone involved with the data, including me. For example, suppose I decided to encrypt my sensitive files before uploading to a cloud system. That would add a very secure layer of protection. BUT, if I forgot to encrypt a particular file for some reason, my solid plan is meaningless with regard to that file.
Therefore, I have made a personal decision to not put everything in the cloud. If things are going onto systems over which I have no control, I am extra-cautious. I have colleagues that do so regularly and are quite comfortable in their decision. For me, though, I need something different.
David Ross is a senior Technical Enablement Specialist with IBM Corporation in the Tivoli Cloud Enablement group. David specializes in Tivoli Service Automation Manager and IBM SmartCloud Provisioning. He joined IBM in 2000. Part 2 of his story explains his foray into cloud in the home.. Follow him on Twitter @TechnoRoss