If there’s one thing that’s true about the world of cloud technology, it is the fact that it lives up to its name and changes seem to happen faster than we expect them to. From clear skies to raging storms, the cloud is going through lots of churning growth, competition among companies, wider adoption by businesses and, of course, getting lots of love from cloud savvy consumers . November has been no exception and we’ve seen some really eye opening things happening in the market and learned more about how cloud storage services are being received by consumers as a whole.
Two big pieces of news this week regard a major brand in the computer hardware world that’s got tight ties to the cloud and the voice of the people speaking out to researchers who’ve been digging to find out both what they like and what they loathe about storing their data in the cloud. What you learn might give you some fresh perspective on this booming market and also help you decide on cloud storage that makes the most sense for you.
While no longer at the peak of their power, Dell remains a PC brand to be reckoned with and one that will be remembered by anyone who saw the ‘You’re getting a Dell, dude!‘ commercials from the early 2000′s. Since missing expectations that bumped it from a market leader in the PC and server hardware industry, Dell is now attempting to become a major player in the world of cloud infrastructure manufacturing. The transition has not been an easy one for the Round Rock, Texas based company.
How hard has it been? Well, the earnings report from Dell for the 3rd Quarter of 2012 showed that earnings were down by 47%, an absolutely brutal figure that makes one wonder if Dell is really destined to be a cloud hardware leader. However, a spokesman for the company blamed the poor earnings report on falling PC sales primarily. Still, Dell is a fighter and made a big move without any hesitation. As Barb Darrow reported for GigaOm in a recent post:
The following day, Dell announced plans to acquire Gale Technologies, a provider of infrastructure automation software that works across on-premises and hybrid clouds to provide user self-service capabilities.
This is an incredibly aggressive move for Dell and definitely signals that they are more than serious about getting more involved in the cloud infrastructure game. HP is another company, and definitely a rival of Dell’s, that is attempting to get involved in this same market because both of these PC industry juggernauts need to find a place to move next as tablets and smartphones reduce the sales of PCs and Netbooks prove to be an unprofitable fit for most PC manufacturers.
Dell and HP will both need to define themselves well because they’ve got plenty of competition. The media’s been eager to report how mega competitors like Google and Facebook are not just looking to buy up low cost hardware for their infrastructure, but in the case of recent reports about Facebook, actually looking to develop that hardware by themselves. Google, too, has been reported as looking to develop its own hardware. So, yet again, the makeup of the cloud could be about to change.
We know the cloud storage sector is taking off like never before so obviously plenty of consumers love using it, but November’s really shown just how much they love using it. As Darrow tells it:
Given all the vendor action in the cloud file-sync-storage-and share arena, it’s a booming business. Dropbox has netted a phenomenal $260 million in investment for a service that is probably not close to profitable. It now also claims 100 million users, double the year-ago figure and that it is storing one billion (with a “b”) new files every 24 hours.
Those figures can do nothing if not boggle the mind and that’s only for one cloud storage provider, not the market as a whole. Granted, Dropbox is most certainly a major player in this arena, but it is still well beyond amazing that they have reached this massive of an audience. CEO Drew Houston went so far as to tell an audience he was speaking to at Harvard University the other day that profits aren’t really what the company is focused on, that the vision is a lot bigger. While all that remains to be seen, the impressive feat Dropbox has accomplished certainly deserves the attention it’s generating.
Consumer survey site Fixya recently reached out to its substantial audience with a poll asking them what concerns they had about cloud storage. Among the top concerns the 50,000 respondents shared was security. Unlike a secure cloud storage provider like SpiderOak, Dropbox is not known for being a place where you would want to store sensitive personal data. As Darrow tell us:
For Dropbox, 40 percent of respondents cited security concerns first and foremost. There was an issue earlier this year when hackers were able to access some Dropbox user accounts.
In reality, dedicated hackers are difficult to stop whether they target a large corporation like Dropbox or even PayPal or they set their sites on a home user’s secure data storage. That’s simply the nature of the threat that humans pose to one another. However, security was not the only concern that Fixya’s poll respondents reported. Half as many were concerned about storage limits with Dropbox and others fretted over file syncing problems or lagging. Clearly, as good as Dropbox is at meeting needs, there are more issues to be worked out over time.
Sure, there are definitely things that will need to be improved as cloud storage services become a bigger and bigger part of our lives, but that’s to be expected. This is a relatively new industry and sync and store solutions might not be the ‘big thing’ in the years to come. Change is inevitable and it will likely be positive, too, but for now we have to focus on finding the services that best meet our needs. The good thing is that the market remains diverse so there are still lots of choices out there to consider.
Have you found the perfect solution for your cloud storage needs? We would certainly love to hear from you because the more everyone takes part in the conversation about how to improve the cloud storage experience, the better these services are going to get. So if you’ve got an opinion, good or bad or even neutral, we would definitely appreciate hearing from you. Leave a comment below and if you’ve got any questions, feel free to ask those, as well.