17 Sep 2021

Why Cloud and Why Now?

Toshiba's Kerstin Woods explains how the need and practicality for cloud computing has evolved and why it's a critical component of today's enterprise.

I’ve been in the cloud business long before cloud was cool. As employee number 24 at a hyper-growth Storage Service Provider (SSP) startup back in the ’90s, our dream was to deliver data to businesses, just like electricity.

We centralized the storage of your information in extremely robust off-site datacenters around the world, assumed the burden of managing all that infrastructure, and with state-of-the-art technology and round-the-clock global monitoring by PhD-level IT gurus, made your data more resilient and protected than most companies could fathom doing on their own.

It was brilliant. Store all your stuff with us and stop worrying about SAN vs NAS, or which RAID levels are best, or how often to perform which kind of backup for maximum data availability.  Just plug-in to our service and we will make sure your data is always available. Cool stuff that was a reality all the way back in the late 1990s.

Unfortunately, we were a little ahead of our time because people weren’t ready for data to live off-site. Why?

• Most people still went into an office and accessed stuff from a desktop, so flexible data access wasn’t yet a real desire.

• Performance wasn’t NEARLY what it was today, on any front. NETWORK BANDWIDTH HAS INCREASED in speed about 50% per year since 1990 – picture a hockey stick increase from then to today. No one wanted to put data off-site and slowly wait for it to come back. Processing speed doubled about every 2 years during that time as well.

• Security was still unknown (my data goes where, with whom, and, can you prove it?)

• Cost wasn’t that compelling because storage was still expensive. In 1990, the COST PER GIGABYTE (GB) of storage had just dropped below $10,000/GB. Today, it’s measured in pennies per GB!!

Fast forward to today… we’ve got everything we need to make cloud not just a reality, but a necessity.

• We have hybrid workplaces (further expanded by COVID), business travel (work from anywhere, even WiFi on planes) and countless devices that all need access to your data. Your data CANNOT be constrained within your office walls any longer. Odds are your competitors are using the cloud and they are calling on your customers right now with all the information they need to win, right on their mobile device.

• Performance is exceptional and 5G is here. In 1999, you had speeds of 0.28 megabits per second (MBps) and now we’re looking at 100+++ MBps. About 400x faster – hard to imagine isn’t it!?! Not to mention greater capacity and lower latency. Accessing data from the cloud is now fast and reliable.

• Security is better understood and a major focus for cloud providers. As one of my very, very large global customers (ie: think of companies towards the top of the Global 500 list) from my days in Oracle’s cloud business pointed out – the top cloud providers have more security experts than anyone else on the planet and way more to lose. As a result, he felt like his data was much safer in our cloud than in his own offices because he didn’t have nearly that same level of security focus, budget or expertise. And it’s true.

• Lastly, cost is compelling on all fronts – saving you CapEx, staffing costs, and more.

Not only has cloud become possible because of the issues technology has overcome, cloud also opens a whole new world to technologies that you wouldn’t have been able to access before.

You can tap into software tools and technologies with the click of a button. Whereas before you would have needed to hire an expert, get them trained, and implement the software on your own hardware before you could even start finding value in it. And, because cloud centralizes your data, you can access more data simultaneously for greater insights – for example, you can see inputs across multiple locations, aggregate all that data, and make better business decisions, almost in real-time. And that’s just the beginning.

If you haven’t yet adopted cloud in your business yet, now is the time. Small, medium, large businesses – yes, all of you. And, if you’re well on your way, I hope you’ve reaped the early benefits of it.  But that’s where the next challenge comes – how do you best integrate your physical world with that expanded digital world?  We’ll tackle that in the next blog…stay tuned.