It’s 2019, and the Cloud is everywhere—from the apps we use every day to the infrastructure of global tech giants.
According to researchers at Gartner,
revenue generated from public cloud services is projected to grow 17.5 percent
in 2019. This amounts to a total of $214.3 billion, up from $182.4 billion in
More than a third of organizations surveyed by Gartner saw cloud investments as a top three investment priority. With this kind of growth, tech organizations are racing to get onboard with cloud-only software and platforms. Here are some of the trends to look out for this year:
Cloud, Multi-Cloud and Mergers
IBM announced its purchase of Red Hat last October, calling it the “most significant tech acquisition of 2018.” This combined Red Hat’s extensive network of open-source clouds with IBM’s Hybrid Cloud team.
Mergers like these are likely to become a trend this year, as companies see the vast benefit of using multiple clouds across all sectors of their organization. Furthermore, this system will dominate in the future, as businesses find public clouds inadequate to meet every one of their requirements.
As a more flexible and functional solution,
many organizations will shift to a network of multiple private, public and
hybrid clouds in the coming years.
Serverless computing is a young market in technology, but it will continue growing in 2019. Serverless computing isn’t actually “serverless.” Instead, it is a cloud-computing model in which the cloud provider itself runs the server on a dynamic, as-used basis (FaaS).
Rather than buying server space, developers
can simply use a back-end cloud service to code, only paying for the server
space they actually use.
As this relatively new technology develops,
we can expect to see more companies providing and expanding their “serverless”
Although cloud technologies are growing exponentially, artificial intelligence (AI) could prove an even greater economic driving force. This is because according to Accenture, the impact of AI could double economic growth rates by 2035 in developed countries.
Amazon, Twilio and Nvidia, to name a few, are thus, incorporating AI with cloud computing, next-gen GPUs and the Internet of Things (IoT). This has led to the developing of applications with “smart assistants,” and voice-to-text technologies.
Such a combination of AI and the cloud provides an extremely powerful and unconstrained computing network.
Digital transformation is already underway, with Gartner also projecting that 83 percent of all workloads will shift to the cloud by 2020. However, this movement presents issues of cybersecurity.
Many businesses have not properly secured their cloud-stored data. For example, marketing and data aggregation firm Exactis left around 340 million records exposed on its cloud servers. This was uncovered in a data breach last year.
The implementation of the General Data Practice Regulations (GDPR) makes this even trickier. The GDPR affects cloud security, and IT companies will likely struggle to comply with these new laws while protecting sensitive information.
Cloud computing services are progressing exponentially, as are their new developments. As a result, 2019 will surely be filled with businesses pouring investment into enterprise solutions. This while expanding, securing and implementing cloud technologies to their fullest extent.
Bridget is a freelance writer and editor, and the founder of Lost Bridge Blog, where she writes about traveling as a Millennial woman on a budget. When not writing, you can find her traveling, drinking inhuman amounts of caffeine and scrolling through the latest tech & political news.
It’s not often that we readily endorse a product or company. However, when the nature of work they engage in is considered ground-breaking and has a positive impact on our lives – it most certainly warrants a mention.
The rationale for considering such tech-driven projects as highly significant is neither due to ‘gut feeling’. Nor that it is simply fascinating and therefore must be an excellent product. This project actually has a value proposition for you!
We are indeed well into the information age and while we have written extensively about data, its importance to marketers and its fragility when used and abused by unscrupulous third-parties for their financial gain.
The issue of data security is however, quite a serious issue. You just need to pay attention to the news to become even more aware.
Data breach incidents
In Europe, the where security is supposedly more advanced, we have seen the likes of renowned airline British Airways, being hacked. Several hundreds of thousands of customers’ personal data compromised.
These were followed by hacks on other major airlines such as Cathay Pacific. Aside from airlines, other business outfits have suffered a similar fate.
The perpetrators are getting a lot more brazen and very recently, a cable car, used as public transport in Moscow was hacked, leaving vulnerable passengers terrified and stuck high up in the air. And this probably to the amusement of the pranksters (hackers).
Can you imagine the chaos and commotion that would be caused if their control systems of driverless cars were to be hacked?
The digital intrusions get even more sophisticated.
This time, affecting the very wealthy: private yachts are now being hacked and taken into the pirate waters, all via uniquely coded signals, reading data from their antennas!
On the issue of data security, you often hear about extra protection but not just anti-virus and anti-phishing software. The more secure and heavily encrypted Blockchain technology is, however, making waves in the digital sphere.
It is mainly for the escalation of its once shining star by-product designed for discreet transacting – the Bitcoin.
Blockchain technology has also triggered several other technologies based on its digital cryptology technology to ensure that your information is kept safe from prying eyes while stored, used or transferred online.
Blockchain products such as cryptocurrencies, however, are not completely safe from hackers!
The company we chose to highlight uses a unique vault system and is called Zortrex. It has adopted one of such Blockchain technologies dubbed tokenization. It will be using it to ensure that highly sensitive data online is kept safe.
“Our tokenised solution would have protected their customers’ personal identification information (PII) details. Instead the hackers ran off with the date of birth; passport numbers; financial data etc,” says Susan Brown, Chairperson of Zortrex – relating to the British Airways incident.
Tokenization is the process of converting rights to real-world assets into a digital token on a blockchain.
Brown’s background in data privacy systems as well as her devoted passion for the protection of PII, financial and healthcare data led her to start up and chair Zortrex.
“Companies have disrespected your data for over 25 years, and if left unattended, there will be nothing left to protect,” Browns says.
Thanks to new laws like the European GDPR law which is now imposing the data protection, data breaches and abuse of customer data is now met with hefty financial penalties.
Companies now think twice about consent and how to use and share your data digitally. But is it enough? The simple answer is no.
The authorities just do not have the resources to investigate every complaint nor to actively enforce all data breaches – yet.
We have ingeniously invented systems that automatically align with financial messaging, payments and securing information. All of which require data.
“However, we should and need to go a step further to secure all the PII details with tokenisation so that in the event of a hack, the cookies and trackers will only be following a ‘useless’ token as there is no real identification on it,” Brown explains.
Zortrex would naturally like to tokenise all healthcare data so that vulnerable people living outside of major cities can also feel assured that their privacy is protected.
In a previous blog, we wrote about the new Internet of things (IoT). All those devices being built for it. They would all need their IP addresses and the serial numbers tokenised for instance.
The application of the all-powerful blockchain is not limited to use in the financial sector and will be applied via the supply chain to all industries that deal with data – especially the most sensitive ones.
An angel investor or any investor for that matter looking to get onto the next best thing since Amazon would therefore be unwise to pass up the opportunity to back the Zortrex venture given its scope.
Furthermore, regulations are currently being implemented primarily in the pharmaceutical sector.
A tokenised supply chain such as what Zortrex offers would be ideal for this new law which is planned to be implemented by 2023. A judiciary blockchain, for instance, would enable the police to “talk” to the prison service, who in turn, will communicate with the legal sector or public health institutions (NHS).
Forensic evidence would in such instances be tokenised and kept secure (away from tampering) during legal hearings. In another practical scenario, Smart Contracts(which are touted to replace lawyers) can spark off legal aid assistance.
You court cases will be heard quicker and be more efficient. Protection registers can also be protected with tokenisation rendering it more secure.
Blockchain technology offers quality assurance making sure that no shortcuts are taken. The smart contracts specifically, trigger any possible malfeasance.
This will enable the monitoring and tracking of any data sharing to third parties once it is tokenised. The third party apps would only gain access to the data once the trigger has been activated.
Like other pioneers and visionaries, Brown’s futuristic hope that every child being born will have their name, date of birth, blood type data being tokenised, might seem farfetched. However, given the nature and rise of data breaches it is evidently necessary.
Zortrex wants to use their technology to put the hackers out of business!
Tokenisation cannot be mathematically reversed and thus it will least it will stop the hackers for a while.
For such high ambitions, the creators of Zortrex’s software have adequately ensured that the technology used is fully scalable. One stumbling block many Blockchain projects now face is what is referred to as scalability – which in tech terms, is the ability of a network or software to grow and manage increased demand.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum specifically – which is used to build a lot of Distributed Applications, however, have massive scalability issues.
The growth in demand for DApps is crippling those systems. They need to investigate the incorporation of alternative technologies, upgrade or split their platforms to cope with such high demand.
Someone must take the first step in securing this data forever. You should be able to purchase what you want without being harassed by trackers and cookies.
The need for tokenisation is endless and further, down the line, celebrities and government official’s PII can be secured by it to protect them from damaging schemes, ‘bad press’ and scandals.
In a previous blog, we “prophesized” that data is the new commodity – like gold or oil. However, the actual value with that data will lie in its privacy, the ability to store it securely and unlock it only with legal permission by its rightful owner.
The term “storage wars” has taken on a new meaning. It has shifted literally from the ability to keep one’s belongings in physical containers to having one’s data stored and managed in the digital realm.
A question often asked is whether the (Internet) cloud is infinite. The answer is both a yes and no.
The top four cloud tech companies are endlessly engaged in a silent market share war. It is a tough choice as they all offer millions of gigabytes in storage. It is therefore fair to interrogate to what extent is there an abundance of storage after which storage space will run out.
Other factors to consider is the actual server location, ability to sync any folders and perform selective Synchronization.
There are also key offerings such as offering the ability to edit files on mobile devices. For businesses, the ability to remotely wipe mobile devices, perform file-versioning, and other useful features for data management.
As a business, if the above-mentioned features are not in your cloud solution, you better look into switching away.
While you can technically run your own cloud, it would require a full-on IT team. That or a very good support system to assist in its maintenance and administration.
It is for this very reason that a SaaS(and Hybrid)-approach to storage is preferred by many medium to large enterprises.
Here are 4 of the most popular CSPs
A standard (personal)GoogleDrive starts from 15 GB in size and comes when you open a Google email account. This is a standard with most Android-powered mobile phones which require a Gmail account to register the phone. It is a convenient way to store and access your pics, videos, and files across multiple devices or back them up in case of a hard drive crash.
If you do not mind the inconvenience of having several logins, you could get away with multiple drives giving you 15 GBs each.
There is, however, a drawback as there is no such a thing as a free lunch – the level of security and compliance features naturally are little to almost none. Additional storage can also be purchased with different upgrade plans, which may come with more add=ons such as extra file encryption.
When it comes to their business offering, their Team Drive is available with the G-Suite bundle. One can upload 750 GB of data per day and up to a total 5 TB in size. Team Drive can contain a maximum of 100,000 files and folders, however, this limit can be increased upon request.
The basic package including the more advanced security costs $5 per user per month and gives you 30 GB for storage and collaboration.
The ease of accessing and using the drives via strategic partnerships such as the one with Android provides them with growing market share. As it is cloud-based and not linked to physical devices, you can access your GoogleDrive using a Mac computer as well.
There are growing talks of incorporating Artificial Intelligence <AI> into the data management systems and currently building a full AI Center in Accra, Ghana. This will help bigger companies manage, access and organize their stored information faster and with more purpose.
This comes with revised pricing and storage options: 15 GB: remains Free; 100 GB costs $1.99/month; 200 GB $2.99/month and 2 TB $9.99/month.
Google is a latecomer when it comes to offering business solutions and still battles with the stigma of being a free service and thus associated with inferior quality.
The integration with Office applications is still something they struggle to get right. Not many are fans of their free word processing software included in Googlesheets.
Most non-Microsoft platforms will have this compatibility problem.
They also run into a few data syncing problems ever so often, especially with the free storage. They offer full 24/7 customer and technical support with their products. More aggressive advertising and pricing of their business offerings now serves to hopefully alleviate this issue for them.
How Google bounces back from a hefty EUR 4,34 billion fine for the mentioned collusion with Android will determine if they survive the storage war. This especially if they will be now forced to allow other CSPs to offer services on mobile devices.
They are actually seen as a formal threat and direct (more superior) competitor to Microsoft’s cloud (equivalent) offering – which we touch on next.
Most of this comes from a robust and apparently the world’s largest global cloud infrastructure.
Based on this, its cloud storage, dubbed Amazon S3, works on a “pay as you use” basis while its free tier starts you off on 5GB of storage. Thereafter you pay in increments based on the storage class you fall under.
So the first 50 TB will cost $0.023 per GB per month and then the next 450 TB will cost $0.022 per GB per month and so on.
This is practical for businesses that do not have a limit to storage space but scale up and down very quickly based on their operations.
Amazon’s storage platform gives users and businesses alike the ability to geographically store and move data with the highest levels of encryption. In addition, one can use data analytics on your data without moving the data into a separate analytics system.
Amazon Athena additionally provides anyone who knows SQL on-demand query access to vast amounts of unstructured data. As with Google, AI incorporation along with Alexa would facilitate this even further.
Other notable benefits offered include open workflows, Hybrid-cloud storage capability, powerful APIs and easy and reliable access to many Third-Party vendors & Partners.
Naturally, you get access to its AWS Marketplaces. It also has a strong compliance adherence including HIPAA/HITECH, EU Data Protection Directive, and FISMA.
Storage users need to have a .Net Framework and SQL installed to use the storage. For those looking for quick storing solutions without building heavy infrastructure, they can adopt the cloud completely.
With the launch of its online services (Microsoft 365,), it has had to repackage a portion of its Azure platform to cater for small to mid-sized businesses.
These include functional/specific bundles such as OneDrive (personal), OneDrive for Business and Sharepoint (a powerful storage and content management tool).
The online version of the Sharepoint starts at $5.00 per user per monthfor a rather limited 1 TB per organization. Thereafter, users can purchase more in 1 GB increments of 12 to 16 (US) centsdepending on the total (storage space) size ordered.
Lastly, they offer storage to help perform computations and process events (Functions).
These bundles are all provided free for the first 12 months and then range from $0.002 per GB to about US 0.20c per million executions.
They have a good Partner system to help distinguish and provide support for the best storage package based on one’s immediate needs.
To bolster their growing Marketplace, they recently also purchased the business that deals with OpenSource (GitHub). This enables more freedom for developers to manipulate software on its platform.
For a comparison of the storage types via Azure and pricing for each, click here.
People have found its pricing a little to steep on the storage side and so keeping market share will be tough. Many new smaller CSPs offering cheaper per GB rates.
They can only counter this by offering more products that require their storage (compatibility-wise).
Some other cumbersome restrictions like users being only able to upload 20 000 files at once or the actual file-size limit might not bode too well with heavy cloud data users.
They also don’t have as many APIs as Google or Amazon does, but these are growing by the day.
Probably the first of the CSP batch that provided cloud computing. It therefore has had the experience of honing ways of storing and retrieving data for larger businesses. International Business Machines (or IBM) can be considered as the grandfather of data storage.
As with the other CSPs, there is a free offering called the “Lite plan” consisting of a single IBM Cloud service instance with storage up to 25 GB/month.
Paid storage is staggered, per consumption and based on complex costing tiers based on location, storage class, and resiliency choice.
Storage charges start from $0.09 for up to 50 GB down to $0.014 for 500+ TB on what they call the Cross Region Flex plan.
Their security is their biggest pride and strength and makes them a firm favourite for large companies and potentially governmental institutions.
The fact that they do not actively advertise as much as Google or Microsoft is telling. They clearly need to provide high secrecy and protection for their existing clients.
One such feature unique to the way data is stored on their cloud servers is using Information Dispersal Algorithms (IDAs). This helps to separate data in unrecognizable “slices” that are distributed across datacenters.
So basically the complete copy of the data resides in any single storage node, and only a subset of nodes are available in order to fully retrieve the data on the network. This is similar to how peer-to-peer sharing or data encryption works.
IBM relies too much on its reputation as a forerunner for tech and cloud-based computing. It has earned that title for several decades before the likes of Google and Amazon barged in.
They might lose out on market share once the newer CSPs start to offer more robust products and compliance services like theirs.
Their high security and complex system come at a premium so designed for or rather restricted to wealthy companies essentially. The hosting option (main server locations) looks limited and restricted to geographical areas primarily within the US and EU.
Be wary of clandestine terminology such as ‘unlimited archiving/storage’ even with a paid subscription. This usually refers to storing data at rest and not the ability to constantly and unlimitedly sync files.
Another salient factor to compare would be the number of files that you can upload or sync at the same time.
This will be relevant for larger companies that need to upload large files and by large, we mean 10 GB files (2 and a half HD DVDs’ worth of content) and upwards.
Making a choice
At the end of the day, your decision to take on a faction in the storage war should be based on your priorities. You simply match it to what each of the companies is offering taking your budget into consideration of course.
You may need to consider running a combination of two or more of them.
Some larger companies offer storage as a “must have” with hosted email or along with something as basic as purchasing a new smartphone.
You will, however, have to ask yourself a few more pressing questions around functionality, data security and compliance before taking it up.
Or you can simply not accept the offer or disable it in cases where it is presented as a freebie!
The thought of “servers” and “hosting” are rarely things you consider on a daily basis. If you are not an IT or a software architect, then probably not at all.
For the mentioned professionals, however, these decisions are critical to the operations of a business however large or small.
There is a fine line between how and where software systems are used. This line has become thinner because of evolving cloud technology and automation.
Sourcing and deploying the right IT architecture could therefore help your business stay afloat, or sink without.
Communication is key
The most effective mode of communication in any business (other than verbally or telephonically) is still the electronic mail or E-mail.
It is effective because it helps you to form a time-stamp and a reference point when it comes to documentation. This is an important aspect when it comes to legal obligations and commitment. Emails are, therefore, something that should not be taken for granted!
We consequently send, receive emails with attachments and receive them through various devices. All without a second thought as to how this happens.
After all, this is the job of the IT-guys, right?
Well quite rightly so. They often must battle with their respective management and board of directors for funds to keep this going without compromising operations. And this from not only a daily functional point of view, but from a security and software compliance facet.
Your company’s IT infrastructure: Emails; File-servers; Databases (CRMs and ERPs) and other communications tools are commonly hosted (managed) on-site on systems referred to as ‘on-premise’ solutions.
These are managed by computer-like CPUs that look like the standard boxes that you plug your monitor and keyboards to. They however, have a lot more processing power and storage and are called Servers.
Servers naturally must be kept cool because of the heat they generate from being on all the time. As you can imagine, built-in fans are far from being enough to cool them off!
If you didn’t know, there is likely a (highly) protected server room in your building that is kept as cold as the cold storage for meat factories.
Now there an array of servers types. Each of them is designed to run the tasks of mail exchanges, file-storage, and sharing, the storing and deploying of remote PC operating systems. Others handle databases and many more dedicated functions.
You would need to have the licensed software to operate each server providing unique services. This makes it quite an expensive outlay if you have all of the abovementioned requirements!
Servers are not irreplaceable and can overheat, get corrupted or crash like a hard-drive (or a NAS server system). They therefore need to be maintained at a cost to the company via your IT department.
Depending on the amount of data and complexity, maintenance is sometimes outsourced to specialised IT companies or the software license providers.
In the early 2000s ‘the cloud’ or ‘cloud computing’ became a new concept. Cloud-computing is basically a very large set of high-end servers equipped with software to manage all the tasks mentioned above. It is usually offered as a service under a single (monthly or annual) subscription.
So basically, you are renting the service of a server as opposed to owning it. Renting, just like with property or cars, relieves the user of all the costs of maintaining the product in question.
This sort of rental service offered by cloud service providers is now known as Software as a Service(SaaS). This also saves you from purchasing any hardware let alone paying for the extra electricity bill to cool a server room.
According to Quora.com, the main difference between a cloud and a datacenter is that a cloud is an off-premise form of computing that stores data on the Internet.
A datacenter, on the other hand, is an on-premise set of hardware that stores data within an organization’s local network.
As an IT professionals you would face the burning question of whether to go for a solution that will relieve them of mundane tasks such as server maintenance. Naturally, you would also want one that facilitates the daily administering of user profiles, mail/data archiving and backups. But to what costs then?
Deciding on which to go for
There are many pros and cons when it comes to the hosting of a company’s data on a server as opposed to having it run via the cloud. There is also a massive array of choices and bundles between the top cloud-service providers.
This makes the decision-making process a little harder for directors – who often don’t have the time for such tasks.
Cloud service providers for starters, have several data centers used as backups. So a service like email hosting, will have several servers in different locations to serve that function alone. This curbs the risk of your data getting lost, unavailable or even hacked.
Maintaining a server is expensive as they (as mentioned) require massive cooling systems. Some smarter companies like Microsoft,are now taking to the deep oceans for that function.
When it comes to email hosting or the storage of files in the cloud nowadays only five large multinational corporations’ names come to mind: Microsoft, Oracle, Google, IBM and Amazon.
These companies however bear the burden of maintenance, while providing just the service you require on a subscription basis.
Setting up an on-premise solution, in contrast, can be a tedious exercise and an expensive one. This especially for individual companies who do not have large IT budgets.
In addition, the argument of “once-off” payment to own the server is rendered obsolete. This is because the actual hardware and license models change very quickly nowadays.
Licensing a server is no child’s play either. Having to decide on costs and functionality will determine how to license. This would be either per server, per virtual machine needed, or per processor core and then you needCALs).
To illustrate the difference, an outlay of a hundred thousand dollars just for the software licenses for three years. This compared to a cloud-hosted solution/package that performs the same function over the same timeframe.
You can literally piggy-back off companies like Amazon and Microsoft’s security services, which then costs 8 thousand dollars monthly (96k annually).
So, within three years of using the cloud, you would have reached the $100K cap that would be spent only for licenses. You would have also saved with an extra $188K in additional services.
This is a portion of what would have been spent on maintenance, technical support, security, upgrades and updates.
These figures are rudimentary, but the long-term savings are noticeable as cloud service providers tend to provide value-add solutions when pricing their bundles.
Microsofthas for one, recently launched its Microsoft 365 package which includes an upgrade to the latest operating system (Windows 10 Professional or Enterprise). This is something IT professionals would have had to source separately.
Software deployment and the administration of user accounts is cloud-based. This means you now be perform this conveniently and remotely from a PC, Laptop, Tablet or even Smartphone!
This means as an IT professional, you will now have more time to oversee more important issues like data security and overall IT policies. Better yet, you can now look into ways to automate and improve systems further.
This is possible without the inconvenience of running from PC-to-PC to install operating systems, Office software or manage mailboxes.
The remote desktop services of an on-premise server were a step in this direction but are a pain to set up. So, you can view the cloud as an evolution of remote-desktop services.
The only (and potential) hindrance to using cloud services naturally would be the availability of good and cheap broadband (Internet connectivity).
Without both, the justification for running your business fully on the cloud would not stick. Some businesses, especially in developing countries, are, in a desperate attempt to adopt the cloud in the future. They use what is known as hybrid-systems: a combination of cloud and on-premise solutions.
If you operate in a country without forward-thinking government officials that facilitate broadband availability, you will suffer the most.
Like an old, car, outdated hardware and software can lead to costly services (especially for out-of-date and warranty solutions). This means heftier maintenance fees and support costs from third-party IT professionals who bill you by the hour.
The common old rhetoric of not trusting the cloudis also one of the past. Cloud services often outperform on-premise solutions when it comes to high-end security software and data protection. This is because of the obvious economies of scale involved setting up expensive security software.
The level of security would naturally have to be the digital equivalent of Fort Knox. This has to be the case especially if you are dealing with sensitive data such as financial, legal services, healthcare and educational institutions.
Your company would need a system that will keep such data secure and compliant.
So, rest assured the cloud-providers go all out to keep the trust of their clients though highly stringent and compliant online security systems.
With data now being treated as a commodity and the subsequent need to trade and value it, we now have Blockchain and digital currencies like IOTA and Dogecoin being used to facilitate payments. This while keeping data encrypted, decentralized and safe.
Lastly, in the advent of the new GDPR laws, some companies will still opt to keep and maintain their servers internally. By doing this however, they might lack transparency and tools needed to show their consumers how their data is being handled.
Such companies must source out third-party solutions to keep their data management systems compliant. This adds further costs to a problem that could easily address by subscribing to a SaaS solution.