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Send in the Clouds (Part One)

Have you seen the TV commercial by Microsoft in which a mother cleverly removes the “bad” head shots in the classic family posed picture and replaces them with adorable head shots that she has retrieved “from the cloud”?  You will.  And, if I know Microsoft, you will see it and other variations over and over during the holiday season implying that if your computer is running the Windows 7 operating system with Windows Live you can magically cut and paste information “from the cloud” into your everyday life to make you happier, more efficient, cooler, etc.  Frankly, it is an odd message – not exactly rooted in reality – but then again what about this brave new age of computing networks seems intuitively real?

We are at the front edge of something that will become commonplace in the next five years (or less).  For most of us it is hard to imagine computing without installing the software we use on our computers and not storing all of our data and files on our own hard drives and company networks.  It seems like we “control” the environment when it is on hardware that we can see and touch.  And, to a great extent, we do.  But relying on local hardware for software and storage is mechanically fragile – drives wear out, what seems like plenty of storage is exhausted in a short time.  Backup and security for enterprise systems becomes a mission critical part of your IT structure.  Companies who manage their risk of data loss have to either outsource the real time security and redundancy of their systems or invest in an onboard “failsafe” program.  It is not inexpensive and it is not negotiable.  It is the cost of doing business.

In an effort to spread the risk many companies (and individuals) also store data online or “in the cloud”.  How confusing is THAT?  Certainly everything has to be SOMEWHERE, right?  How safe is it if we don’t know exactly where it is?

This is the question that divides the men from the boys, the old from the young.  Those of us over forty (be honest) WORRY about where the “stuff” is; pretty much everyone under thirty doesn’t care. (The thirty-somethings are divided . . .)  People who grew up with computers in the classroom, at home, in the library are confident that everything is somewhere and so long as they can retrieve it that is fine.  They assume that someone else is making that happen, spending the money to make it happen, and maybe even charging money to make it happen – it is their reality, and their new “cost of doing business.”

Where are those family pictures?  Well, the pretty faces had to be sent into the cloud in order to be retrieved from the cloud.  But it doesn’t matter whether you are on your laptop or workstation or a public computer.  That data can be retrieved from anywhere because it is “everywhere.”

Next:  What about the software?

Cathie Cushing Duff

One of the third generation membership owners at Cushing, Cathie has been active in the organization since 1975. A graduate of the University of Toronto (St. Michael’s College) she attended the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Illinois School of Business. A Past President of the North Central Reprographic Association and International Reprographic Association, she has served on the ReproMAX Association and Chicago Family Business Council Boards. When not exploring print and digital communications, her passions are family, knitting and crocheting. Visit Cathie’s Google + profile.

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