There are still plenty of businesses that prefer to host data and applications internally rather than in the cloud but they are as silly as people that keep their money under a mattress instead of in a bank, according to Google.
Theses businesses are what Google affectionately calls “box huggers”.
The Internet services company and search engine magnate has been in the cloud business for years with its Gmail offering and Google Apps suite which includes collaborative applications such as Google Docs. With the latter, Google boasts three million business customers worldwide – with a total of 30 million active users - and 3000 businesses signing up everyday.
But security in the cloud remains a pressing question for businesses, particularly when it involves the public cloud where data and applications are stored off-premise. Recent high-profile hacking incidents involving companies such as Sony doesn’t help to instil confidence either.
“The cloud is still very much a nascent concept and there are still a lot of box huggers that want the blinking lights in the back server room they can hug and say ‘it feels good and comfortable my data is here’,” Google Apps product manager for Australia, Anil Sabharwal, told ARN. “But then you have situations like the Queensland floods and wipe all the data.”
He recounted his experience in India where the intense heat takes down air conditioning systems and servers in private on-premise rooms breakdown causing data loss.
Sabharwal recognises Google has to build its credibility and reputation in keeping data secure and available and compared the process with the banking system.
Banks had to earn the trust from people that traditionally kept their savings in their homes through enforcing additional security measures including installation of safes and hiring security guards.
“Everybody gets access to the same level of security at banks and naturally it just became a situation where today you’d laugh at anybody that kept their money under their mattress because they think it’s safer than putting it in a bank,” Sabharwal said. “… I think you are seeing the adoption of the cloud by organisations that were typically very sensitive that are now realising we can protect their data, keep it safer and more available than they could in-house,”
According to Google, most if not all technology companies have or are looking into building cloud-based solutions because they recognise it is what CIOs are asking for. Those CIOs are interested to reap the benefits offered by the cloud such as lower cost, higher security and reliability, Sabharwal said.
But is that the case in Australia?
“Here in Australia we tend to be a little bit more risk averse and a little slower to adopt,” Sabharwal said. “Rightfully so because we want to see it get proven in other places first.”
The US and Europe have seen a rapid adoption of cloud computing. This has filtered down to Australia where even the Federal Government have been looking into cloud computing services.
“We are there in a many parts of the world and here in Australia the conversation on cloud computing will move away from security in the next 12-24 months,” Sabharwal said.
Google forging relationships with telcos
In June, Optus launched its OfficeApps software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering which leverages Google Apps to cater for the SMB market.
The telco route for distribution of cloud applications is becoming increasingly appealing to Google.
“We recognise in a lot of parts of the world, particularly in Asia-Pacific, telcos have many of the relationships with SMBs because they not only the infrastructure services but software services required to run those businesses,” Sabharwal said. “Rather than reinvent the wheel, we recognise those partners have tremendous expertise and bring a lot to the table.
“We’ve had a lot of success with teaming with telcos in other parts of the world and here in Australia we are very excited about our relationship with Optus.”
Sabharwal would not discuss whether Google is in talks with other telcos regarding a similar arrangement. But it is safe to count Telstra out of the equation since it has competing offerings through T-Suite.
Telstra’s ill-feelings towards Google Apps was also made apparent when in March last year, the telco’s CTO, Hugh Bradlow, stating he would throw his laptop at anybody that tried to make him use Google Docs.