Twenty years ago people were concerned about security on the Internet; today, almost everyone does business over the Internet without a second thought. In 2015, the same concerns exist for cloud computing – we are at the beginning of the journey, and security and reliability is a concern – but the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) that mystifies cloud computing will soon disappear.
This observation was part of the opening remarks by Tom Turner (SVP Medium Business, Rogers) at the Rogers Tech Talk, held on June 5th in Toronto. The event, called “The Future is Cloudy: Demystifying the Cloud” was well-attended. Perhaps there are still some people whose heads aren’t in the clouds!
Another opening remark was that over 70% of businesses have adopted cloud computing, which would imply that clouds are not really that much of a mystery any more.
I was intrigued by the speaker line-up: representatives from Microsoft, Rogers and Samsung. To me, this would not be a natural combination of companies to truly demystify the cloud! It was, however, an interesting and worthwhile session that provided some useful insights.
The first presentation, by Gui Carvalhal (Senior Product Marketing Manager) of Microsoft, was about Office 365 and the vision behind it. Some of the ideas I picked up included:
- The world is now a giant network with people working anywhere using a wide range of device types;
- There are 3.5 million commercial users of Office 365 in Canada (70,000 companies);
- Modern workplaces use a network style organization – everyone collaborates with everyone else;
- Tools for content creation, shared work, integrated communications, etc. need to be available at all times from any location;
- We are moving towards an era of continuous updates for applications – Office will no longer be re-purchased every few years, Windows 10 will be downloaded, applications are installed automatically or used from the cloud, transition from device to device is seamless, etc.;
- We will be moving to touch-first interfaces, intelligent assistants, and self-service Business Intelligence.
One of the items that caught my attention was Office Delve which is a feature in Office 365 for business. This is being called an “extensible intelligence fabric” which, to me, seems like an interesting concept. Apparently, Delve relies on Microsoft’s Office Graph technology, which uses machine-learning to track the links among people, content, and activities across Office 365 applications. All very impressive!
There were a variety of features discussed and several videos shown. One was very futuristic and illustrative of what hyper-connectivity and multi-platform integration could do.
An example of a large Canadian user was provided, Air Canada’s 27,000 employees, who use services such as Yammer, SharePoint, Exchange online, and OneDrive for business.
Further information about Office 365 is available here.
The second presentation, by David Racicot (Regional Account Manager of Samsung) was mostly about Samsung Knox and Android security. Knox provides defence grade security on the Android platform, including realtime protection from the moment it’s turned on and security features from the hardware up to application containerization.
Samsung Galaxy use is skyrocketing, with more than 200 million in service. The newest Galaxy S6 has many desirable features for business users, and can serve as an excellent complement to Cloud Computing.
He observed that mobility and personal devices are very important elements of cloud computing, given that mobile worker growth rates are exceeding 70%.
Chris Costa, a solutions engineer for Rogers, provided an overview of how Rogers is developing and evolving its cloud business. He stated that Rogers had the first multi-tenant cloud in Canada, in 2009, and that they are now designing their 3rd generation of cloud services.
Rogers offers private, public and hybrid cloud solutions using nodes that are located in Toronto and Ottawa. One of the advantages that Rogers offers is integration of their data centres with the existing mature fibre-based communications services. They have also partnered with VMWare, HP, Cisco, NetApp and Tintri to provide robust suite of cloud services.
Several examples of Rogers’ customer cloud solutions were given – the emphasis, however, was on the combination of private clouds with public cloud disaster recovery.
All in all, it was an interesting and informative morning, but it also clearly illustrated how difficult it is to truly demystify cloud computing. I am sure there’s a long way to go before it’s a clear day for clouds!
What do you think? Is cloud computing still mysterious or is it now old news?