Vineet Jain is co-founder and chief executive of Egnyte, a company offering a “cloud file server” combining an online service with a local device.
Celebrities, athletes, and rock stars have rabid fans, but none compare to the fervent evangelists of the technology community. The envy of every brand manager, technology evangelists passionately embrace change and innovation, and they eagerly await the next best thing. These days, the evangelists seem to chant with singular agreement that cloud computing is not only the next best thing, but the foundation for all that will come in the future.
There is a lot of hype about “the cloud,” and the variety and adoption of cloud-based applications is increasing, especially among small- to medium-sized businesses.
For example, Ohio-based attorney Thomas J. DeBacco made his firm paperless and eliminated expensive archival costs by adopting a local cloud solution. After 25 years of business, Innovations International made the bold move to a virtual model. The company uses a cloud file server to allow remote employees to share, edit, transfer and upload files virtually and consistently.
An industry giant such as Google or Salesforce.com would have you believe that desktops are passé and the future is in the cloud. This is correct, but only partially.
The ground-level reality is that people still need to read and edit files locally on computer hard drives or from a NAS (network-attached storage) box sitting in the office network. There are times (on a flight, in a courtroom, at a restaurant, etc…) where internet connections are still difficult to obtain. And in truth, it is much faster to edit large data files locally since the hard drive or that little NAS box are unaffected by the vagaries of the internet.
Further, even if in the future, the internet access speeds and penetration in the US rivals that of Korea, we still don’t envision a complete virtual world for all applications and all data. A user with a local device — the venerable desktop/laptop or the “cool” form factor netbook or the alluring tablet computer, would still have the need for working on files “here” and “now”.
The cloud-based solutions, specifically DaaS (Data as a Service) have to be available with the “hybrid cloud” option. Hybrid cloud solutions give you ubiquitous access to your data , locally as well as in the cloud. In does not matter where are you accessing the files — they can be locally available in your LAN or on your own computer; or they could be accessible in the cloud. A hybrid cloud solution seamlessly keeps both local and cloud files synchronized.
Certainly, there are many businesses with moderate file sizes, excellent internet connectivity, and a distributed workforce that will be best served by a pure cloud-based solution. However, as their data increases on third party servers, so does the vulnerability to potential “what if’s.” What if the vendor goes out of business or technical problems result in data loss? What if the data center is impacted by some natural disaster and the redundancy is not adequate? All of these potential scenarios that raise questions about losing control of your data, and validate the importance of hybrid cloud solutions. There are many businesses like Memphis, Tennessee nonprofit, The Metal Museum and flat screen frame maker, HD Envy who work with design files that are 50-100MB or higher. Editing these files virtually can be a painful experience, and again points to the need for hybrid solutions.
Implementing a hybrid cloud solution without the maintenance heavy hardware/software bundles is key. The right solution is one that self-maintains and self-corrects itself. It requires only commodity hardware that you can lock away in a closet and forget about. That’s an exciting vision but one that is difficult to implement. Vendors who can do this right will do well now and in the future.